Okay, before I show you what I found while picking chokecherries, I’ll share with you why I am so super excited about it.
When I was quite young, I spotted a caterpillar on the leaves of a crabapple tree. It was unlike any I had seen before. Not only that, but I found three more!
I don’t know how long I spent, examining them while they worked on spinning silk around them. Their green colour, almost exactly like the leaves they were on. The yellow stripe around the body, with the row of spots along it. The way it’s real head was tucked and hidden below with – most fascinating of all – “eyes” that made it look almost like a fish head, with a very distinctive line next to the “pupils”! With another stripe around the real head, it looked like a fish holding something in its mouth. 😀 Then there was the fact that, if I poked one (gently, I must add), two little orange “horns” would emerge from its body.
I was absolutely thrilled by them.
So it was with great excitement that I went running to my mother and brought her over to see them. She seemed very interested in the one I showed her, and even asked me to show her the others as well. I enthusiastically obliged, pointing out each leaf that had one of these caterpillars.
Then, to my shock and dismay, my mother proceeded to bash at the leaves, sending the caterpillars flying. After making sure she got rid of all 4 of them, she left. I searched in the grass for them, hoping to put them back on the tree, but never found them.
As you can imagine, that was the last time I shared my excitement over a critter with my mother. In retrospect, my mother probably assumed it was something that would eat and harm the apple tree. She certainly never took the time to explain it to me.
For years, every summer, I would find myself searching among the leaves of the apple trees, hoping to see this caterpillar again. It took me even more years (in the years before internet! LOL), but I eventually was able to identify them as the caterpillars of Tiger Swallowtails. The butterflies are rather common out here, but finding the caterpillars, not so much!
You can probably imagine my childlike thrill and excitement when I finally saw one, today!
I’ve cropped the photos, but did not resize them, so you can click on them for full size.
With its little bed of silk on the chokecherry leaf, it almost looks like it is floating in mid air!
Doesn’t that look almost like a fish head? A bit like the local catfish.
In this photo, you can see just a little bit of the real head, tucked underneath.
This little guy is, of course, different from the ones I saw as a kid. It’s a darker green and more mottled looking. The spots along the yellow stripe around the body are harder to see. This one also has a spot of purple in the black “pupil” of the false eyes. It is still, however, the same kind of caterpillar, and I couldn’t be happier!
I did, of course, call the girls over to see it, too! I had told them the story about finding the caterpillars – and what my mom did to them – years ago, so it was fantastic to be able to share this with them.
I then took great care not to disturb it, while picking berries. Alas, I did not see any others, but I did look! 🙂
I am so excited!!!!