Monday, June 25, 2007

Captive Caterpillars

We haven't done much to our new yard yet. Aside from mowing, watering and edging, not much has changed.

When we lived in the other house, my uncle's wife gave Darling Man a gorgeous pepper plant with hot peppers that he eats! He planted it in the front yard of the other house and happily harvested many many spicy peppers for his OWN enjoyment. When we moved, he dug it up and transported it here. It's been sitting in its pot until a couple of weeks ago, when Darling Man planted it in a raised bed in the front yard.

Yesterday, he watered it and admired how well his plant was thriving in its new home.

Today, he came home from work and every leaf but one was GONE. And some of the peppers had BITES taken out of them.

The culprit? Three rather large, healthy looking green caterpillars.

He pulled them off the pepper plant, but then didn't know what to do with them. Didn't want to put them back in the yard. Didn't want to flush them down the toilet. Didn't want to squash them (ick). We wondered what they would turn into eventually, so we got a vase, put some fern and some smylac vine in it so they'd have something to eat, and dumped them in - hoping that eventually, we'd see crysalis and emerging moths/butterflies.

I drizzled a little water in with them and we set them on the table on the back porch.

20 minutes later, they looked like they were on a bad trip. Their little heads were whipping around and they appeared to be attacking each other. We wondered if there were LSD elements in the fern... or the smylac (you can eat the roots of smylac) because this was one bad caterpillar trip.

The next time we came out, they were dead in the bottom of the vase. We have no idea what happened, but apparently by trying to save them, we managed to kill them.

Oh, well. Guess we don't have to worry about them anymore...


Jeff said...

There is a life lesson there. Trying save sometimes kills. There is another story with the same principle with catepillars. There must be something to it (don't help a butterfly get out of a cocoon). Interesting.

Me said...

wow. i don't think i have ever seen a caterpillar in real-life.

Anonymous said...

Lots of caterpillars are very plant-specific, and can/will only eat certain very specific plants. Tomato hornworms, for example, only eat tomato plants, and certain close relatives like eggplant and potato leaves. Oleander caterpillars eat only oleander leaves. If they eat pepper plants normally, perhaps ferns and smilax are not good for them?

ablondeblogger said...

LOL!! This SO sounds like something that would happen to me!

Patience said...

So instead of squishing them resulting in immediate death, into the jar they go with some kind of psychedelic poisonous plant food. They OD'd on grass!!

nikki said...

They probably died from the gas the peppers gave them. Nothing says ouch like a hot pepper fart.

Anonymous said...

Hot pepper fart!?! Funny.

We get huge webby nests of caterpillars in trees around here. They're like big candy floss. the only way to get rid of them is to burn the nest and hope you don't burn down the tree or the house.

Janet said...

I heard on the radio today that there was some sort of caterpillar epidemic going on, eating all the leafage. I laughed when I heard it, but I'm sure there are repercussions in nature that I should take into consideration, too.:)