Wednesday, June 08, 2011


About a month ago, Anna Rose adopted a caterpillar that she found crossing the driveway. I went online to discover it was an Eastern Tent Caterpillar, not the highest of animal species on my list, but hey, I figured it was better in a jar in my house than eating one of my trees outside.

She named it Squirmie. Never was a caterpillar more loved. She slept with it next to her bed. She took it to show and tell. She fed it fresh leaves on the days that I remembered to collect some. That thing thrived for a solid 9 days. Day 10, Squirmie began to sleep a lot. I prayed hard that its immobility was moving it toward the pupa stage. But alas, my prayers did not manage to change the inevitable tide.

So I went to Facebook.

I'm afraid Anna Rose's pet caterpillar, Squirmie, might have kicked the bucket. What should I do?
May 2 at 3:57pm · ·
    • Zach Albertson catch a moth. and tell her squirmie got some wings.
      May 2 at 4:02pm ·
    • Amy Jenkins Rzepka Tell her it turned into a butterfly and you had to let it go. Just hope she doesn't realize the actual gestation period...
      May 2 at 4:19pm ·
    • Desi Roberts Anders Buy her a puppy! She'll forget about the caterpillar. :)
      May 2 at 4:35pm · · 1 person
    • Caroline Barritt Chambers Same thing happened over here but when Annabelle investigated, she believed it was sleeping and said, "it sure is hard to hear him snoring."
      May 2 at 5:12pm ·
    • Doug Wittenberg Buy her some gummy worms...they taste way better.
      May 2 at 5:21pm ·
    • Jennifer Kelly Williams Explain the death process=never too young to learn.
      May 2 at 5:38pm ·
    • Andrew Diakos I got a bunch of replacements in my front lawn...Lidia likes to eat them so you better come quick....
      May 2 at 7:22pm ·
    • Dudley Bell Don't count him out yet!!! We made that fatal mistake with our first hermit crab. It was AFTER flushing the "carcass" that we learned they actually go dormant for days at a time...but are still living. Still trying to get over that one at our house.
      May 2 at 7:25pm · · 1 person
    • Elise Clark A sad part of having pets, but a great oppurtunity to teach even at a young age!
      May 2 at 8:57pm ·
    • Ned Erickson Thank you all for your advice. I tried the straight up and tell me Paula Abdul strategy and A-Ro explained to me something very similar to Dr. Bell's above. We decided to build her a new home outside and wish her the best. I gave her a hug and told her that I doubt any caterpillar has ever been more loved. Then said, "Hey let's eat a brownie."
      May 2 at 10:11pm · · 1 person
    • Dawne Sarchet
      Perfect, Ned. Truth is always loving when you tell it in a loving way. Your Mom, Aunt Mel and I had major funerals with her at the organ with the window wide open. How do you think tht I ever learned to be a minister! Complete with scri...See More
      May 3 at 6:19am · · 1 person
    • Renee Erickson I do remember, Dawney. He was irreplaceable, just like Tessa.
      May 3 at 10:45pm ·
    • Dawne Sarchet Absolutely! So real and so protective and so lovingly ours. I still remember that poor truck driver. But I never got over Jacky.
      May 5 at 3:36pm ·

The responses were varied.

I finally decided that I would go with the "Just tell her the truth" method. So I sat her down on the front porch step that evening with Squirmie resting peacefully in its jar. I said, "Anna Rose, I think Squirmie is dead." She said, "No, she's not. She's just sleeping." I said, "Why don't we let her sleep in that tree over there." She agreed.

Walking back, I told her, "Anna Rose, I don't think another caterpillar was ever more loved. What do you say we eat a brownie?"

There was a short reprieve. Squirmie continued to decompose until finally a bird took it out of its misery.

A week later, Lia had the great idea of ordering one of those butterfly kits. Three days later we had three new caterpillars living in our house. Painted ladies. From what I understand, they are much more rugged and sturdy enough to withstand children.

Ten days in, we had three beautiful Chrysalises (sp?). In another week or so, two hatched. She named them Honeysuckle and Wildface. The next day, Cocoonie, came out of its chrysalis. We had three honest to goodness butterflies!

I think it was my fault that Cocoonie died.

I think I was a little too generous with the sugar water. The poor guy's wing got stuck in it and broke off. He walked around in circles for a day before falling in a sugar puddle and dying of gluttony, perhaps?

I was bent on saving the other two. So far, I was 0-2.

I think Anna Rose saw it coming. She said, "I'm going to keep them until the die" before I could even begin my "If you love something, set it free" speech.

Oh boy. This was going to be hard.

Over the course of the next week, I continued to encourage Anna Rose about letting Wildface and Honeysuckle go. Finally, I convinced her to set Wildface free. Lia had actually planted a butterfly garden in the backyard (I didn't know there was such a thing), so we had the perfect place. I took a bubble blower stick and coaxed Wildface on the end of it. Then I placed him on a flower.

It let Anna Rose touch him.

Then off it flew. I was so proud of her.

She set Honeysuckle free tonight with Lia. It flew way up into the sky above the trees then came back down and landed on Anna Rose's finger before flying away. No lie.

Mission accomplished.

1 comment:

Rich Erickson said...

I'm glad that I got to be present for the first butterfly. It was an aha moment for sure. I wish I could have seen the other one come flying back to Anna Rose's finger. Perfect.