The other day we were out testing our wheels. Benny got rollerblades from the Easter bunny, and Sadie has gotten big enough to ride the scooter. So there we were, rolling along.
After a few turns and a few falls, a few things sniffed enthusiastically by the dog that turned out to be pine cones, Benny found a caterpillar. Being Benny, he picked it up immediately, pronounced it "adorable" and began to "snuggle" it. Poor caterpillar. He hinted broadly that he'd like to keep it, and I, positive that it was already dead from all the affection, agreed. With total confidence that the bug was dead, and encouraged by all the "loves" that he was giving it on the slow way home, I got out the old hermit crab house (I killed them -- long story) and we furnished it with sticks and leaves.
The caterpillar was lying on its side, completely obviously dead. I pointed this out, and he said, "He's lying on his side so he doesn't cough!" Uh, ok. The next morning, he had moved, enough to turn halfway around on a leaf. We left for our day's activities -- ballet, Ahno's house, homeschool park day, karate.
When we got home, we rushed over to the caterpillar's lair and he had begun doing this:
Maybe you can't see (hey, I can't see, and I took the picture) but he is actually swathing himself in spitty cotton. When we went to bed, he was still at it, looking like he was wrapping himself in spiderweb.
In the morning, not only was he not dead, but he was COCCOONED. He was completely wrapped up in this yellowish cottony stuff, and we couldn't see him anymore. This led to much googling and asking of how to spell chrysalis, and at the end of the very intense learning experience, we discovered that he is... a tent worm.
He is a tent worm. One of those awful things that makes a giant next in a fruit tree and kills the tree. People LOATHE tent worms, people exterminate tent worms, people hurl vile invectives at tent worms. People do not, for example, nurture tent worms in beautiful little terrariums and call them "adorable" and "snuggle" them. Except that WE DO. And in three weeks, he's going to emerge, not as a beautiful colorful butterfly or an elegant moth but as this awful, bull-headed creature the color of phlegm who will probably immediately start demanding a pear tree to annhilate.
But I bet the children will love him!