Saturday, August 3, 2019

Parenting Caterpillars

I read online that cinnabar moth caterpillars, like the ones that took up residence on one of our garden ragwort plants, can sometimes starve to death because they devour the ragwort that they're on and it's not enough to get them through their larval stage. We have several ragwort plants, including a couple that are pretty large, but the caterpillars all appeared on a relatively small one.

So yesterday, I helped ten of them "move house," shifting them to the bigger plants. Hopefully now everyone is distributed in a way that will keep them all alive and healthy. I also found one very small caterpillar that had fallen to the ground -- whether it fell because it's small or vice versa, I'm not sure, but I put it back on the plant.

It's such a trial to keep all the children safe!

This is a Cambria orchid that I bought for Dave a year or two back. I never expected it to bloom again, but this spring it sent up a flower stalk and now a couple of new blossoms have opened. It's a very weird-looking, spidery flower, isn't it? Cambria orchids are apparently hybridized from several different natural species, so I guess this doesn't exist in nature.

Dave and I always say when our Japanese anemones start blooming, it's time to go back to school. Here's one of this season's first. It's a few weeks early -- I don't go back until the 15th -- but close enough.

I spent all day yesterday at home. I sat out on the garden bench and read, and did some light yardwork (like rescuing caterpillars), and finally watched a movie I've been meaning to see for ages, "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner" with Tom Courtenay, from 1962. I have to watch all the old movies I can while Dave is gone, because he is not a fan!


  1. There are these caterpillars on ragworts in the field where I walk the dogs and I noticed yesterday that the leaves were all eaten!
    I don't think I shall bother moving the existing caterpillars.....nature will have to provide!

  2. In order not to traumatise the baby cinnabar caterpillars you should wear a black and amber striped "onesie" when parenting them or when transferring them to different ragwort plants. It's just common sense.

  3. Oh that movie
    I studies it in my film studies degree and hated every minute

  4. yes, I've moved monarch caterpillars around from plant to plant. your garden looks lovely and it's nice you have the weather to enjoy it. I go out for a little while first thing in the morning. after that it's too hot for anything but short forays.

  5. So kind of you to help those caterpillars find a better place to feast.

  6. I love that you have taken to parenting the caterpillars. They are in safe hands. I watched an old movie last night too. The 1956 "Anastasia". It was great seeing Yul Brynner again.

  7. We visited an orchidarium (yes, there is such a thing) in Mexico when we lived there. I was amazed at the thousands of varieties of orchids.

  8. "It's such a trial to keep all the children safe!" - LOL! But seriously, it's touching that you moved those caterpillars. I hope your reward is to see at least one emerge as a butterfly.

    Not a movie fan here, so I can understand Dave's point of view :)

  9. Taking on the welfare of caterpillars is such a Steve Reed thing to do :)

  10. Erg - what I meant was I hope you get to see at least one caterpillar emerge as a *moth*, and also what I meant was that you see it *at the moment* it is emerging . . . sheesh :) If I drank coffee I could blame it on lack thereof, but I don't, so I have to take full blame.

  11. I love that photo looking through the garden towards your home, with Olga relaxing along the way. Good for you for helping out those caterpillars. What a kind human being you are!

  12. Frances: I'd leave them alone too if I saw them in the wild. Clearly enough moths survive to keep their numbers going. I just feel responsible for these, having them right in my back yard!

    YP: This comment made me laugh so hard.

    John: Really? I didn't HATE it, but it was a bit...long.

    Ellen: I remember you moving those monarchs! I mean, nature has to take care of itself at some point, but it's a good feeling to help it along, right?

    Robin: If we get just one more adult moth out of my actions, I'll be happy.

    Sharon: I've never seen that movie! Maybe I should add it to my list!

    Catalyst: With all the hybridizing I'm not surprised. I went to an orchid show at the New York botanical garden years ago and had a similar revelation.

    Jenny-O: I doubt I'll actually see one emerge -- I think they pupate underground -- but hopefully I'll see an adult flitting around the garden at some point. You don't like ANY movies?

    Bug: It's probably an insane thing to do, but I'm owning it.

    Sue: Olga's favorite summer pastime is to lie in the sun in the grass!