After all those lovely posts regarding tea and scones with pretty china cups, etcetera etcetera, I decided to do a bit of a u-turn and share something TRULY GROSS with you (Because, quite frankly, you’re worth it)
Last week our friend Ness gave us a present… of caterpillars. Needless to say, I promptly thought of posting it here, and let me tell you, what has transpired since has us all transfixed. We started off with approximately eight “Cabbage White” caterpillars noshing on some tasty cabbage (organic of course!!). We anticipated cocoons and in the spring, pretty white butterflies fluttering around, and so housed the little blighters in an observation tank. Then two days ago we noticed little mini cocoons beside some unmoving caterpillars, so we called in the caterpillar expert (Ness) and after a brief examination, she told us that the cocoons were those of parasitic wasps who laid eggs inside the caterpillar and then burst out of the caterpillar, cocoon themselves, and hatch out in spring to continue the cycle (i.e, laying eggs inside the caterpillars, hence killing them)
(hard to see, I know, but the blurry bits beside the caterpillars are the wasp cocoons)
“Gross” you may say? Certainly!! But fascinating, even the tiny (bleugh, yeuk, I need a smaller font for this one) maggots that burst out of the caterpillars and create a cocoon for themselves (we have observed them wiggling around before they cocoon themselves. Only in the name of science would I allow this in my kitchen). We are now down to two caterpillars that we are hoping haven’t been invaded by the parasitic wasps so we can see them create their cocoon and become butterflies next year. So I bought some more cabbage for them (I had an unusual shopping list today: dog food, cat food and caterpillar food-they simply were unimpressed with the celery stick Fergal put in) and we are watching their every move. By the way, the parasitic wasps are natures way of controlling the caterpillar population, and, cruel and all as it may seem, it has just added a completely unplanned, and very exciting, dimension to our home education this week!!!