Friday, August 13, 2010

Hands on: the butterfly edition

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I swore I wouldn't shoot my own hands for the Hands On Project.

I'm breaking that rule because I wanted to show you the handiwork of the past few weeks: five monarch butterfly chrysalises.

There's a sixth hanging from one of our dining room chairs, from before I wised up and confined them. The seventh and final specimen is a day or two away from its own chrysalis.

Caring for these caterpillars has meant work every day, principally in sourcing milkweed leaves, the only food they'll accept.

I've never taken such pointed walks. The point being: where-is-the-g-d-milkweed?!?

But once I found it, the caterpillars would fall on the leaves - literally - like it were the last food on earth. Hunger manifest.

I've also never taken a pet to the movies before.

(It was a hot Saturday. We'd a whole day of activities planned, including a matinee and a morning run for milkweed. We couldn't leave the hungry buggers at home, weren't planning to return until bedtime, and couldn't leave them in the broiling-hot car whilst we were at the movies. So they spent the movie under my seat...)

Over the past few weeks, I've had to inure myself to the cleaning up the stunning amount of poop the monarch caterpillars produced.

But I'm used to that. I mean, that's what babies are all about: hunger Hunger HUNGER and poop.

So here's to my hand-reared darlings.

I just hope I don't kill them when they emerge from these chrysalises, probably at the rate of one a day for a week. Which is the rate at which they confined themselves.

(Thanks to Mary East, who helped me to find milkweed early in this process. Thanks to Kerry Ryan, who let me pilfer it from her garden late towards the end, and for being mercifully just-down-the-street. Thanks, finally, to the Living Prairie Museum - I think - for infesting me with butterflies.)

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