Monday, January 4, 2010

Nature in the Lens: Caterpillars

Ah spring, the time when a young man's fancy turns to something or other... squash possibly. It's really not important though. What is important is the humble caterpillar who will be making his debut. According to a very refutable source* this is a very important time in their development. Dr. Eric Carle on the subject of the hatching caterpillar possibly summed it up best: "Out of the egg came a tiny and very hungry caterpillar." Dr. Carle goes on to further explain the dietary habits of the caterpillar and the various foods it will engorge on within a week.

Consuming food is indeed the name of the game for the furry and often brightly colored lepidoptera. Things are not always easy either. Many natural predators of the caterpillar look upon it as nothing more than a quick meal. Two year olds are especially dangerous as they are known to have an insatiable appetite for them. Other predators include: Boyfriends looking to creep out their girlfriends; the kid on every playground who will eat anything for a quarter; drunks, and occasionally birds.

Those lucky enough to survive will eat their fill and begin preparations for the metamorphosis. Despite what Franz Kafka wrote in his autobiography 'The Metamorphosis' this not something one can expect to happen overnight. A cocoon is woven, and the happy caterpillar climbs in and prepares to go to sleep. Generally a warm glass of milk and some late night TV** will do the trick. Then it's straight on till it's coming out party.

Did You Know...

  • Caterpillars have close to 4000 muscles, yet it only take a dozen or so for me to flick away?
  • Some caterpillars can actually breathe underwater, meaning no escape?
  • Many poisonous varieties can shoot acid? Adorable.
  • Before people had carpet samples, they would bring in caterpillars to show what colors they wanted? This was especially popular in the 70's when people also matched it to their kitchens.
  • Despite popular opinion, centipedes are not related but are in fact their sworn enemies?

Yes the humble caterpillar is a marvelous example of how change can be good. Showing us that even the most hyper spaz could, if they slept long enough, wake up graceful.

**Jimmy Fallon makes me want to sleep eternal.


  1. You forgot mentioning having heavy machinery being named after you.

    As an aside - my brother was a danger because he loved caterpillars so much when he was young that he would clap his hands together in glee whenever he picked one up.....guess he could have used more sleep.


  2. haha yeah that's always a danger.

    I thought about the machinery after I'd posted it. an oversight on my part.

  3. I love caterpillars. I know down here and elsewhere in the south we have the 'pussy caterpillar' I think it's called? it's really tiny and looks like a little persian cat, but beneath it's fur lies these damn poison ass quills that in serious cases can cause respiratory failure. So creepy. And they grow up to be the fuzziest moths I've ever seen.

  4. I got enough animal problems without adding another to my list. Let the caterpillars be, they don't do nothing to me. Hey that rhymes.

  5. I'm not against the caterpillar. Merely providing an accurate analysis. Besides, who could hate the caterpillar, they make moths and butterflies.

  6. Aren't centipedes everyone's enemy? Centipedes are to nature what punters are to football - sexy ... Wait.

    That's an awesome moral to that story I hadn't thought of - sleep long enough and you wake up graceful. Coma, here I come.

  7. "Centipedes are to nature what punters are to football - sexy ... Wait."

    Holy frijoles that's funny.


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