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Creatures of the Night | by poppy2323
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Creatures of the Night

I'm onto either my third or fourth batch of spicebush swallowtail caterpillars for the summer... I've lost track. Click here for my last pics of them. My spicebush plant is still quite small; I just purchased it this spring, and I still haven't actually planted it in the ground, so it's still pot-bound (I'm a little afraid of shaking the caterpillars off if I try to plant it now). I've had caterpillars on it almost constantly for the last few weeks, and I noticed the other day that it was getting a little bare, and I thought that I should probably do something if i didn't want it to get eaten all the way down to nothing.


That evening I went out in the backyard with Max when I let him out for a bathroom break, and when i glanced over at the spicebush, I saw spicebush caterpillars racing - and I mean RACING - all up and down the stems, consuming everything green in their path. (Were they really racing? Yup. I didn't know those cute little green butts could move so fast.)


It was weird to see so much activity - the caterpillars stay rolled up inside leaves during the day, only occasionally coming out to nibble, so I'm used to having to search them out, and unroll leaves to find them. I had heard that they did most of their feeding at night, but this was my first time to catch them in the act.


So that settled it. I immediately plucked off the 4 fattest ones and brought them inside, where I settled them into their brand shiny new caterpillar condo, well-stocked with a spicebush branch that I had cut off a mature spicebush close to my home.


To be continued...

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Taken on August 25, 2008