We kept it in an old fish container that had lots of tiny holes on the top so he could breathe. We put tape on the two bigger holes so he couldn’t escape. It seemed like the perfect artificial habitat for our little caterpillar.
Bradley found a couple small sticks to put in there so he could climb. We fed him milkweed leaves because that is what we found him on. Aunt Terry even special delivered milkweed leaves for our hungry caterpillar and we stored them in a baggy in the refrigerator.
We put him high up on a shelf so Collin couldn’t reach him. We were afraid he would let him out, shake it; or even worse, smoosh him!
We got him down the next day to look at him. He ate almost all of his leaf! It is unbelievable such a wormy little thing can eat so much. The other leaf was dried and shriveling.
“Bradley, we will have to give him more food.”
“Yea, Mom. Because caterpillars eat and eat like in the book (referring to Eric Carl’s famous book, “The Hungry Caterpillar”). He has to get really fat first before he turns into a butterfly. Right, Mom?”
“Yep. We will have to put a few more leaves in there for him. Not suckers or pies like in the book. I don’t think he will like those things. And don’t forget, he will be a chrysalis before he is a butterfly. Remember?”
“What is all this stuff on the bottom, Mom?” Bradley asked, his nose was practically smooshed on the glass to examine his new finding.
Small brown pellets littered the bottom of the container and some were stuck to the sides.
I held it up closer, squinting, to investigate. I thought they were little bugs, but they weren’t moving. I thought they might be eggs, but there were so many of them.
“Bradley, I think that is caterpillar poop.”
Three days later…
We checked on our caterpillar everyday. We cleaned out the poop and gave him fresh leaves to chew on. We looked forward to having a chrysalis and wondered what kind of butterfly he might turn into.
Then one day, he was gone. He just disappeared. (Shhhh…Don’t tell Brad.) We looked and looked everywhere. We couldn’t figure out how he escaped and we couldn’t find him anywhere.
I gave a little shudder thinking of this hairy wormy creature roaming my house. For several days I would keep my eyes on the wall and the windowsills thinking I would find our lost caterpillar. I was a little creeped out and irritated. “We fed you, we gave you a nice house, we cleaned up after you, and you just disappear?! I even kept weeds in a baggy for you in my fridge!”
Bradley was a little bummed, but then he was just ready to go find a new one.
To this day he still hasn’t shown up.
Maybe he will be that pesky moth flying around the chandelier light while we are trying to have dinner. If that does happen, I hope I remember our little hairy creature before I smash him with a fly swatter. Because that annoying moth could be our little guy.
Note to self: Shoo moths out of the house nicely if there ever is one.