Sunday, January 16, 2011

Our new pet

This past week there was a surprise birth in our family and we became the proud owners/keepers of a very rare pet.  Not the type of pet most people would want in their house but since we aren't "most people" it was allowed (although very grudgingly by yours truly) to stay.

This past fall the kids, like most children, found an unusual caterpillar and brought it into the house in a jar to watch it make a cocoon and hopefully see it hatch.  It did proceed to make it's cocoon but after a couple months I got to thinking that it wasn't going to hatch after all and since it was getting cold it might be interesting to dissect the cocoon to see what we could see.  So I took off the outer case and then the kids got upset and thought we should ask Daddy (the go-to science guy) first just to make sure.  He too thought we should let it go longer so we wrapped the thing up in a napkin, to replace it's outer case that I had removed and taped it onto the kitchen mantle piece, pretty sure that nothing was going to happen.
Well last week at some point we came into the kitchen to see the napkin opened up and a huge moth hanging out on the floor drying it's wings.  After a thorough examination by the kids I said, "well we better take him outside now".  No!, everyone protested (including that crazy nature loving husband of mine).  "If we take it outside it will die!".  Yeah, and so what?  As is usually the case though in situations like this I lose and they win or I get labeled a murderer, so we ended up living with this moth the size of a small bat in our house for the last week.
Lovely right?  Thankfully he didn't really fly around but every morning we would play "Where's the moth now?" as he would be in a new place every day.
Since I posted this Christian told me that it probably never flew well because normally when a moth emerges from it's cocoon the restrictiveness of the cocoon squeezes the blood through all parts of the wing stretching the wing out completely and in our case the napkin wasn't very restrictive.  Notice the wrinkles in the wings?  Oops.  Sorry.  We'll know for next time and try plaster of parris instead.  
Well, "he" actually ended up being a she as we noticed that she proceeded to lay eggs on the wall, floor and wherever else she would land.  Again I said, let's get rid of those eggs and again everyone protested that we should let them hatch and see what happened.  What in the world people!?  Are we living in some kind of moth preserve?  Like I want all these baby caterpillars crawling around here.  Really!
See those little eggs?
Grace walking warily past.  Actually no one was really scared and they all had fun examining her up close.
Thankfully, I mean unfortunately Fuzzy had an untimely death due to slow starvation and the fact that one morning she flew too low and the cat got a little too interested.   So sad for Fuzzy.  May she rest in peace.  We will take care of your little babies dear until they hatch in the spring.  Actually I think I did convince everyone to get rid of the eggs but I wouldn't be surprised if a few were "accidentally" missed.

I wish we could have identified this moth but it isn't in any of our insect identification books.  I also looked online but there are just way too many moths to sort through to try to find it so unless anyone out there knows what this is we just may never know.
I guess I should have double checked with Christian before I published that because of course he did in fact know the answer to that.  Like he said in the comments, it is a Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus).


  1. Christy had forgotten what the caterpillar looked like but we had identified it in the fall. It's called a Polyphemus Moth. (Antheraea polyphemus). The caterpillar is huge, about as long and big as my pinkie, which as far as pinkies go is very large as I work out my pinkie almost every day with little pink-ups and pink presses and curls etc.

  2. Well I guess you can blame it on the cat! I had to chuckle when I read that. It really is a beautiful moth, but I have to agree with you, I would not like it flying in my house. And the children really enjoyed it, while it was alive. Hopefully you will not have too many more "coming out"!

  3. That is a really colorful and pretty moth. I'm sure I wouldn't want it in my house either, but think it is prettier than the pups and dogs that other people say are cute! Ugh!!

  4. Ah, Christian, never a dull moment with you around :)

  5. What an amazing moth! I can't wait to show the kids your pictures. I'm so glad you got that new camera because these pictures are exceptional! I love the one of Aiden studying it.

  6. I just read Christian's comment! LOL!!!

  7. Yes Ginger it really never is a dull moment around here with him. :)

    Thanks Denise, we are really loving the new camera too.

    Just you wait. Hopefully puppy pictures are coming soon here too! That is as long as Lily cooperated with her new "friend". ;)

  8. Ah, Christy, what fun! It brings back memories of when I was a kid~ I was always bringing stuff home. Most was okay, well, except for the cute wiggly things in the pond water that turned out to be mosquito larvae! Christian, you are hilarious! Gail R.

  9. So funny!.. and gross! I definitely would not have been able to handle that it my house :P
    How is Lily doing? Has she recovered from her week away? I was hoping maybe I could be able to see if she was pregnant or not on the 29th but that will probably still be too early.


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