We have been labeling this summer as it has gone on. This summer has been "The Summer of the Zucchini" because of the sheer number our garden produced. We starting to feel like Bubba from Forest Gump...zucchini bread, sauteed zucchini, grilled zucchini, zucchini soup. You know.
And then it has been the "Bicycle Summer" because all three boys are now riding on two wheels and we are really starting to explore our neighborhood more. So fun! Before you know it they will be riding down the street to meet other boys at the creek to catch tadpoles. At least I hope that happens someday.
And now Zane has proclaimed it "The Ultimate Bug Summer". We are currently observing nine caterpillars in three containers. We have played with more praying mantises than we can even count. And we have a special spider in one corner of our yard who has become an easy care pet whom Wyatt has named Charlotte (of course, what else would a spider be named).
The caterpillar in the photo at the top of this post and the one above is the largest caterpillar we have right now. He measures about 4-5 inches long and according to our favorite bug site, What's That Bug, he or she is some sort of Sphinx Moth. We're not sure of the exact type yet. We do know that he or it likes morning glory leaves. And we have plenty of those around.
And this little guy was found on our wild violet leaves. We are pretty sure he is a Great Spangled Fritillary, Speyeria Cybele. We'll see in a few weeks as he is now sleeping in his cocoon, making himself ready to emerge as a butterfly.
And then there are these guys. Remember these Swallowtails that were eating our parsley in the garden? We tried to let them just live where we found them and carefully placed some sticks nearby for them to make their cocoons on. But they ate every bit of parsley we had and we think they decided to move on in search of more food. So when the parsley grew back and we noticed more caterpillars, we snatched them up, placed them into our bug house and purchased three bunches of parsley for the refridgerator. So far we have seven Swallowtail caterpillars and we find a few more every day. We'll see how many make it until the end.
Oh and yes...that little "dirt" on the top left of the bug house is caterpillar poop. Watching a caterpillar poop provides hours of entertainment here at our house. If one of the boys spots one getting ready to "go", especially the huge Sphinx caterpillar, he yells with excitement up the stairs..."He's gettin' ready to do it ag-aaaaain. Come quick, before you miss iiiiiiiit!" Aaahh, the joys of raising boys.
Like I said earlier, we have played with numerous praying mantises. We've noticed that their coloring ranges from lime green to dark brown. At first we assumed that they were different species of mantises. But upon further research, we have discovered that they change colors according to their environment similar to a chameleon. So they might be all of the same species after all. Which we think is so cool and has lead to many conversations about what color we would be if we had such a super power. I love the idea of bugs being super heroes. Maybe this is how Spider-man came about?
And then there is Charlotte, our golden orb weaver spider. We first started observing herin July sometime. And it has been such a fun thin to watch. She has set up housekeeping in a far corner of our yard where morning glories spill over the fence from the neighbor's yard. She really has great taste in real estate. And not too far away is our play set. So anytime the boys are out in that part of the yard, which is multiple times a day, we have to check on Charlotte. We have watched her catch moths and flies for her evening meals. We have watched her abdomen grow and now shrink, knowing that she has an egg sack somewhere. We still have not found it yet. And we have watched her weave new webs with that most beautiful zig zag down the center almost daily.
It is a funny thing...our neighbor across the street was watching us with the caterpillars one day and came over to investigate. She was amazed at what we had found in our own yard and said that she hadn't seen one caterpillar all season. She asked the boys if they thought she had any in her yard or maybe they just liked our yard better where there are little boys to play with them. Zane answered her question so perfectly..."maybe you just aren't paying attention to small things like we do". Wow, what an observation. But I think he is 100 percent right. I think children naturally pay attention to small things. And through them, we can train ourselves to do the same.
Happy Labor Day weekend and here's to hoping you find lots of small things in your own yard!
P.S. And we do know that Spiders are not really bugs, but well we use the word "bug" in the general creepy crawly sense. But thank you to those of you who reminded me of this.