Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Feasting Caterpillars

WE occasionally go to the library's reading and craft session and we were excited to discover that this week a puppeteer was visiting. The little show was all about Monarch caterpillars who change in their milkweed patches from green to black and yellow striped, then when they hatch from their chrysalises into butterflies, 'take the Monarch Express to Mexico for a fiesta'. It was very sweet and prompted me to read up on Monarch butterflies.

Later in the garden we went caterpillar hunting and discovered a couple of different kinds. Chowing down on the hostas was a fat black and yellow caterpillar, which just left leaves looking like Swiss cheese. The petunias didn't fare so well at the hands of our little squirmy visitors. After lots of research it turns out we had tobacco budworms, the caterpillar of the uninspiring grey moth. They burrow their way into unopen flower buds and munch from the inside out before moving onto leaves. Apparently these pests take on the color of their dinner, but the ones we found on our pink petunias were only green. They are supposed to be hard to spot, but Emma's keen eye found a bunch, which she was happy to deposit away from the flowers.

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