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.
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.