Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Caterpillar update

May 11. 2007

June 3, 2007
Click on photos to enlarge

Remember that little caterpillar I found last May? It turned out to be a Forest-Tent Caterpillar, a definite destroyer of trees and shrubs. I knew I couldn't put it back in Central Park but somehow I didn't want to kill it either. So I've put it in a jar and have it on my desk. Every day I get it a few fresh leaves at Union Square Park, mostly elm leaves -- the squirrels seem to leave a lot of them on the ground for me to harvest. It's a voracious feeder. In fact it has burst out of its old skin twice, in order to grow. Each new stage is called an instar--most caterpillar have 5 or 6 of them.

I find caterpillar-watching fascinating -- and you might want to do it too. A perfect pet, [if you don't crave an emotionally gratifying response.] Here are some other caterpillar facts I've now been able to see for my own self:

The creature has a head and a sort of tail [called an anal plate, I see in Wagner's Field Guide.] The rest of its body is divided into eight segments. The first three make up the caterpillar's thorax and they have six legs coming out from them with claws at the end --the true legs. These will be the future moth's legs. Then comes the abdomen, divided into eight segments. Coming out of segments 3, 4, 5, 6, are eight fat, stubby, little legs that have little hooks on them [crochets] that allow the caterpillar to cling to whatever surface it's climbing or feeding on.

Question: What in the world am I going to do with it, eventually???

PS Any writers procrastinating around here?