Friday, May 20, 2011

Daily Surprises

Living in the woods, we spend a lot of time outside and the kids are always finding something interesting. There are new discoveries to find in nature almost daily.

               A week ago two birds were flying together, and flew into our big picture window. One was fine the other landed on the ground. I picked it up to make sure she didn't have any broken wings. She just seemed stunned. Praise held it for a while and just looked at it. It was a special little opportunity to see how delicately birds are made.

 Shortly after this picture she just flew away, and it was back to our school work for us. A nice little break.

Last August we found a very green, fat, caterpillar. He reminded us of that caterpillar on A Bugs Life. Holding him felt very strange because you didn't want to touch him too roughly for fear he might just pop.
We placed him in the biggest jar we could find. I was going to have a photo shoot with him the next day because he was so neat to look at. I was too late, within hours of catching him he formed into a pupa. 
We were excited because now there was the chance to watch him turn into whatever it was that he would turn into. After a good month and the weather turning quite cold, I was puzzled, even more puzzling was that when you moved the jar you could here the thing moving inside its cocoon. We did some research online and thought we had caught a luna moth caterpillar. The kids found out that they build they're cocoon on the grass usually under a leaf and winter over until its time to hatch out in the spring. 
This new information made this very exciting.
So we found Mister Caterpillar a place on top of the refrigerator for the winter.

It wasn't until a week ago in the middle of the night, I heard a strange scratching sound in the kitchen. After being a little freaked out by it, I discovered the noise came from the top of the fridge and... I remembered. It was actually the sound of flapping wings.
I placed the jar on the table to surprise the kids in the morning.They were surprised and to realize it was not a Luna Moth. So we had to do a little more research.
Gracey liked to pet it, and she said it didn't want to be pet.
 The kids discovered that Mister Pop Caterpillar was a not a he. She was a Female Polyphemus Moth, very much like the Luna, does not have any mouth parts. And live only about a week to mate.

Unfortunately due to the warmer temperature in the house it hatched out earlier than it would've in nature, and was probably in the jar several days before I found it, as you can see the wing damage.

                                                             Even Sean was so gentle.

Since the Polyphemus moth caterpillar eats the leaves from several trees found in our backyard we placed her on  a tree in hopes of her finding a mate even though I think she was about 4 weeks early.

Its nice to make these little discoveries from our own backyard. Also to find out what we could do differently in the future. If we find one this year we will most definitely store the container in a protected area outside so that it is on time with nature and has a better chance of  finding a mate when we set it free.

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