A while back, we found a caterpillar in the kitchen and put him into a jar with the hopes that he’d spin a cocoon and turn into a butterfly or moth. He’s been quite the obliging little guy and has really given us a treat these last few weeks.
He stayed in the jar for only a few days (never eating anything, though we put several different types of leaves in there) before settling at the top and beginning to spin the cocoon. He folded himself in half quite literally and began to spin.
At first, there were only a few wispy threads around him, but over the course of about four to five hours, the threads became more and more numerous until we could no longer see the caterpillar at all. He would actually spin for a while and then turn around and spin on the other side.
It was terribly fascinating, and we all kept going over to the jar to see what kind of progress had been made.
After six hours at the most, we had a little fuzzy white cocoon.
The little guy stayed in the cocoon for exactly two weeks and a few hours. (Of course I have no idea if the caterpillar was a boy or girl. It’s just easy to say “he.”)
One evening, I glanced into the jar and saw that he had come out. It seemed to have happened very quickly – there wasn’t really a process or anything. In the afternoon, the cocoon was silent and still as usual. That evening, there was a hole in one end of the cocoon and the transformed critter was hanging from the screen at the top of the jar.
We took the screen off and set it outside. (I sure didn’t want it flying around the house!)
Turns out that he is an Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth, quite common in this area and all over the eastern US. The boys were so enthralled, and Robert wanted us to keep it in the house for a pet. Instead, we left it on the deck and it flew away by the next morning.
I wasn’t at all pleased when the caterpillar first showed up in my kitchen, but his visit turned out to be a really neat and memorable science experience for all of us. So if you ever find a caterpillar around your house, keep an open mind and find a jar . . .
© 2012, Cindy. All rights reserved.