Aug 25, 2007

losing your head (and your 6 legs, for that matter)

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This morning, my cat Amelie helped us to notice (what we guess) was a Mourning Cloak butterfly larva that had hung itself upside down from one of our window panes. Another was hanging nearby on the stuccoed adobe wall. Nifty, I thought. I'll take a pic and see if I can capture it at various stages as it encases itself in its chrysalis.

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Several hours later, and thanks again to eagle-eyed Amelie, I watched from inside as the caterpillar thrashed about wildly while the section with its head and six small legs fell off! It then rapidly split its skin from the bottom up. This new skin was wet and red. It slowly dried and became hard. Incredible! Here's what I was able to catch with the camera once I got outside.

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Here's the head.

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And the new, wet skin. You can still see the red on the top, but the bottom has already begun to harden.

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Almost done hardening.

After this, I had high hopes that I could witness and document this for caterpillar number two, hanging on the adobe wall. Here's my bug watching camp - a knitting project and the camera.

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But that bugger wasn't going to appease my voyeurism before sundown. He'll probably be nice and pupa-fied tomorrow morning. And I did have a nice time knitting. Wait until I share this with my students on Monday!


Anonymous said...

Wow! That's incredible - I had no idea the head fell off before they...pupalized(?). Thanks for sharing the pictures, and thank you so much for your wonderful blog. I'd written Montessori off as being too cold and structured for me, but looking through your posts has shown me the warmth and creativity of the method. You convinced me to look deeper and do more research - now I'm considering doing teacher training within the next few years. The education and inspiration are deeply appreciated. :)

JaimeM said...

WOW! That is just simply amazing. Kinda freakish with the head and legs falling off, but how nifty to get to capture it with the camera! Thanks for sharing.

karla said...

That's incredible! You are so lucky to have been able to witness it!

Poppy & Mei said...

THAT. IS. SO... COOL! Thank-you!

Alycia in Va. said...

your afternoon was better than any texbook lesson anyday. amazing!


Robyn said...

Wow! What a neat thing to see. Thank you for sharing it, and camping out. :0)

on the wings... said...

That was such a beautiful event and thank you so much for sharing. As a teacher, I can very much appreciate the "in the moment" of learning you just witnessed.