Back on July 21, Hannah discovered this little guy in her flower garden.
I was sure that he was going to be a huge, fantastically beautiful butterfly and excitedly looked him up on some very cool butterfly identifying websites. He wasn't on them. So we kept him alive until he went into his cocoon.
Or partway into his cocoon anyway. Look at that. When a caterpillar makes a cocoon that has his butt hanging out, can you say he did a half-assed job?
His butt isn't hanging out of course, but the way he designed his cocoon - sleek on the top, rather form-fitting on the bottom - makes it look like he left it hanging out.
And it moved, too. If you picked him up, that little butt end would flip back and forth. He's been in there for over three weeks. Last week I showed him to my sister and told her that I change his soft grass every few days. I wondered in a half-joking voice if he was really dead, just having 'tremors' (maybe like a chicken's body after the head is removed?), and would be doing this for the next twenty years, and wouldn't that be funny? In a fully-joking-because-my-sister-is-a-nut voice, my sister said that she would think it was funny if I kept changing his grass for the next twenty years.
Tonight, while I was making pancakes, I heard Hannah say "I've never seen that kind of moth before."
Ho-ho! What's this?
Oh, he was gorgeous, just hanging there on that grass. He'd climbed out of the jar and onto the longer grass stems to dry his wings.
I wish I had better pictures, but this camera is just not working properly when it comes to light exposure in the house. I should get it looked at. Sometime.
He was big. As long as my pinkie. We took a few pictures (the ones of him drying out his fully spread out wings didn't turn out at all - his 'under wings' were hot pink - so pretty), inspected him with the magnifying glass (sucker had HUGE eyes), and then when his wings started doing a furious 'flying in place' type of movement, we ran him outside to the patch of weeds in the flower garden that he was found in. He took off (have I mentioned that he was quite big?) and Hannah cried about missing him for a few moments.
We're lucky she saw him when she did. We almost missed him altogether. After how strange I thought he was *in* his cocoon, to change his grass tomorrow and have him missing would have been even more strange. I do wish that I'd have noticed him sooner so that we could have done some actual gentle measurements and maybe had a better chance at getting good pictures, but that's the adult-homeschooling-parent in me talking. My little girl was thrilled by what she did get.
Jessi asked in the comments what was left of his cocoon - I'm really glad she asked because I'd forgotten to look. I went and dug through the dry grass and the brown shell was there, with a white milky substance inside. I could manipulate the tail end and stretch it out quite a ways. Very cool.
My friend Lindsay fixed the pictures up for me. You can check out her pictures here and here. Much clearer. Thank you Lindsay!