Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Story of Bob

A couple weeks ago we received two containers containing five painted lady caterpillars each. We put them on a shelf where Josh couldn't manhandle them and watched them grown. And grow they did. Quickly.

Then one day, the first caterpillar crawled up to the top of the cup, attached himself or herself, and turned into a chrysalis. Not long after, the others all joined him hanging upside down except one, who either made the change on the bottom of the container or fell soon after.

It was time to move them to the butterfly pavilion. Per the instructions, we hung the paper disks from the bottom of the jar lids on the pavilion walls. Carefully, Mika picked up the chrysalis on the bottom of the jar and placed him on a napkin as advised by the instructions. That poor caterpillar had a heart attack right then and there. He started wiggling like crazy and didn't stop for several minutes. Our little booklet told us that wiggling by the chrysalis is normal behavior designed to scare off predators. We joked a little, but worried about the poor little guy. Mika named him Bob.

Over the next 7-10 days, we watched the chrysalises hoping to see signs that they are ready to emerge. We noticed one of them turn very dark, then a few others also turned dark. We expected something to happen. Then, just two days ago, Mika walked by the pavilion and noticed two butterflies unfurling their wings. Excitement spread through the house, and everyone gathered around. As we watched, a third butterfly emerged. Others emerged over the next day or so, and we noticed Bob's chrysalis had turned very dark. We hoped for the best.

As I passed by the pavilion earlier today, I noticed a couple more had emerged. I also noticed that Bob's chrysalis was missing from the napkin at the bottom of the pavilion. I called my daughter and together we looked for Bob's chrysalis. We finally found it, still attached to one of Bob's wings. I reached in and helped him rid himself of it. I thought it probably got stuck because it wasn't attached to the pavilion's walls while he crawled up and out of it like the rest had done.

As I reached in, I noticed that Bob had a few problems. One wing looked normal, but the other wing was curled up, split in two at the bottom, obviously deformed. He also had a bent antenna. Later, I noticed that his proboscis had not gone to together properly. Earlier reading told me that he would be unable to eat.

I had Mika take Bob (she had been begging to hold him) outside to die in the wild. It's his true home, I thought. Worried, the kids kept checking on it so I let her bring him back in. Poor Bob. He's obviously weak. He doesn't move. We keep thinking he's dead, but when we check on him we find him still hanging on. We don't expect him to make it much longer. His life will be remembered.

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