Monday, May 11, 2009

Beauty and Beast



I was sitting in the garden yesterday morning, admiring all the new flowers blooming, when I noticed my fuchsia bush looked a little puny. I gazed through the twiggy center, wondering where all the leaves had gone, and discovered this guy:


My first inclination was to snip off the twig he was chowing down on and throw it over the wall with him on it. He could take his picnic someplace else. Instead I waited to show him to my bug-loving son, who promptly stuck him in a jar and named him Vlad.

He's been wanting to keep a caterpillar through metamorphosis. Although Vlad has a face only a caterpillar mother could love (or find, for that matter), I ended up spending a good part of Mother's Day morning trying to find out who Vlad's relatives are.

I was rooting for one of the pretty swallowtail butterflies we sometimes see in the garden. Their larvae look similar, but minus the tail spike. It's hard to see in the picture - and it's hard to tell which end is which - that's the tail on the left.

We think Vlad is a white-lined sphinx moth. We find them resting by our front door, and flitting around the back yard. They're fun to watch in flight because they look just like mini hummingbirds.

When Vlad makes it to the hummingbird moth stage, he's welcome to hang out in our back yard all he likes. I just wish his kind would lay their eggs elsewhere.

15 comments:

LW said...

What a wonderful way to spend a day. Vlad is an interesting little guy …

I posted about a butterfly on my blog on March 6, 2008.
Metamorphosis is am amazing event, each Sept. I collect
a few of natures magic shows in the form of
monarch larvae. It doesn’t matter how many times I see
the show or how old I get, I am always amazed and enchanted.

Louise

PJ Hoover said...

Will you post pics when he changes?????

Very cool story!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Aw, he is a fat little guy! We did this once and named him Petey. He hatched a whole year later. Weird. We'd nearly forgotten about him, and just by chance D was home to watch it happen.

K said...

Wow.

I think this whole adventure earns you some good mom points.

Anne Spollen said...

Very cool -- I think that's the best way kids learn science. I love that your son named him as soon as he met him -- and what a perfect name!

Kelly said...

What an interesting looking caterpillar! Hi Vlad!

adrienne said...

Louise - How cool to do that each year. We have a monarch look-alike here that lays eggs on my passion vine. The babies are not so pretty!
I'll look for your post :)

PJ - I will! He's already digging into the soil we added, so I hope it won't be too long...

Green Girl - Wow, a year! Hopefully out here they don't spend a whole winter underground.

K - Wouldn't it be nice if we could redeem those mom points for things like cheesecake and spa treatments?

Anne - I love the name! Of course naming those things causes them to develop personalities.

Kelly - Vlad probably thinks we look interesting, too. :-D

Bish Denham said...

I'm rooting for Vlad the Inhaler! Hope we get to see a picture of him once he has transformed.

ICQB said...

Vlad is quite a guy (gal?). Good luck with the metamorphosis!

Stacy Nyikos said...

It's going to be cool watching him morph into a butterfly though!

sruble said...

It sounds like you were able to get Vlad out of your garden anyway. Sorry he ate all of your leaves. I hope he turns into a beautiful butterfly to make up for it.

adrienne said...

Bish - I'm hoping to post pictures - and curious to see if we were correct with the ID...

ICQB - My son was just pondering whether we had a Vlad or a Vladette.

Stacy - It's fascinating to see up close. He's already buried in the dirt - with a tiny opening we can see through.

Sruble - I'm always willing to put up with some chewed leaves to have butterflies around. Grasshoppers I'm not so thrilled with... :-/

sruble said...

I hear you on the grasshoppers!

Mary Witzl said...

I'm with you about the caterpillar eggs: I'd be happy to invite caterpillars into my garden if only they wouldn't be so damned greedy. If your fuchsia ever recovers, give Vlad some of the leaves you've trimmed off. I often wish I could get vegetarian insects to dine off the tasty trimmings and leave the rest of the plants for me to enjoy...

(Does Vlad impale leaves with that little spike of his? That would be so cool!)

Rena said...

So, how is it going?