I think we have solved at least one of the mysteries I wrote about over the weekend. All morning at Saturday various children kept staring at the monarch caterpillar trying to decide it if was really and truly dead. (It was, but hope springs eternal and no one seemed to believe me.) Thus it was that several children had front row seats to a very different biology lesson than watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly. Instead they received a lesson on...
Parasites of the Butterfly World.
And it was gross. As they were watching, they saw the back of the caterpillar split open and some sort of larva emerged from the caterpillar. It was light green and almost as big as the caterpillar. There was a general uproar and it took a minute for me to fully understand what many children had run to tell me. Seeing the larva out of the caterpillar was yucky enough, I was glad that I didn't see it emerge. Eeewww!
I did manage to find another monarch caterpillar who was very, very small. I am hopeful that he hadn't been around long enough to get infected. Plus, we are also now washing the milkweed leaves before we feed them to the caterpillar in case there is anything toxic on the leaf. A friend did remind me of the city's mosquito abatement policies.
So we are now on caterpillar number three. Maybe this one will actually become a butterfly. I hope so for H.'s sake. She love butterflies and I really want her to be able to see the progression from caterpillar to butterfly. Third times the charm, right?