Monday, September 6, 2010

South Pond - 8.30.10 - Post 2 (The Very Hungry Caterpillar)

Americans (at least) of a Certain Age were raised on children's books by Eric Carle.  One of my favorites was always The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which was written in 1969 (so it's just a bit older than I am. ;) and while on this walk, I finally got to meet The Very Hungry Caterpillar. :)

I had been thinking just before went out that day that I'd seen so many varieties of butterflies this summer, but I hadn't seen even one caterpillar. I was sure part of it was that butterflies *grab* your attention.  When something flies across your field of vision, you follow it. Caterpillars inch along slowly and hope to not be seen, since they can't exactly bolt if they're detected by someone who wants to eat them.  So I made a mental note to look harder.  And sure enough... big, beautiful monarch caterpillar on my very next walk.  Even more fortunate, he was busily munching away on a milkweed plant that had sprung up between the boardwalk and the fence, so I was able to sit (and when necessary, lay) on the boardwalk and shoot from any angle I wanted to without anything between us blocking my view.

Monarch Caterpillar Munches Milkweed
Here he is, looking right at me.  Well, I think he is.  His eyes aren't exactly well-defined.  His antennae were amazing to watch as they wiggled and probed and twisted.  You can see here that he's munching away on the milkweed flowers.

One Petal at a Time
You can sort of see it at this size, but if you enlarge this one it's a lot easier to see; he's holding the flower petal with his front feet as he eats it.
"Bite Size" is Subjective

So much of the detail in these shots is lost when I scale them down.  In this one, you can see where he's taken a bite out of the flower petal right in front of his 'nose'.
Redefining 'Plant Food'

Here he's holding himself up with his front feet as he continues to work on the flower.  He's actually caught the flower and pulled it down to him to make eating easier.
All You Can Eat Milkweed Buffet

Here he is in context.  I love how you can see the difference between the slim front feet he'll keep as a butterfly and the stocky, blocky back feet that he needs to move his little caterpillar butt along with his front.  Again, great views of his antennae.

Petal Power
Here's a closer version from that same sequence of shots.  (You can tell it isn't the exact same shot with a different crop by his antennae positions.)

No, You Can't Have Any
Here he's coming straight at me with his antennae out like the ears of a dog.

So Many Flowers, So Little Time...

I pulled back and shot with my kit lens for a few minutes to give a greater depth of focus.  I can just hear him thinking, "So many flowers, so little time..."
Flower Powered

Here he is coming at me again, still working on that flower he'd pulled down.
*burp*  All gone.

But this is my all time favorite of him alone.  He's eaten the whole flower.  You can see the stem still on the plant.  And in his four front feet he's holding the very last bit of the flower as he chows down.  This shot, more than any other I took, makes me think of the caterpillar from "Alice in Wonderland".  I think it's the pose.

Now I need to keep an eye out for a chrysalis.  I know it's getting to the end of the season, but hey, they still seem to be procreating, as this guy proves.

Up next, my little buddy here gets a friend.

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