It's magic! Babypillars from nowhere!
What are you noticing around you? Do you like monarch butterflies? Have you noticed that there's not that many around as there used to be? I have ... we got four fully mature, large,luscious, foliage-abundant swan plants courtesy of a friend. Despite my lack of gardening prowess, these have grown nearly taller than me, with very little TLC involved.
Warning: There are several new words in this article which have not been approved by any formal authority. Refer to the glossary at the end if you're unsure ...
Three weeks ago upon inspection of our four swan plants, I found many babypillars and just two or three fatterpillars on the plant. I decided to check them daily and all was well until two weeks ago I noticed we only had one fatterpillar left and the babypillars had vanished. Each time I carried out my inspections, I’d flick the earwigs off the plant and I noticed the bees were enjoying the flowers. There’d been a couple of butterflies hanging around intermittently and of course, there were a few skinny, mean-looking wasps.
After a few conversations and some research I decided to save the one remaining fatterpillar; I clipped the branch off the tree with him on it and brought it inside. He was curled up on the leaf looking like he was ready to hang and transition.
Aside: I’m not sure of the correct gender of caterpillars and butterflies however as a kid I had always thought of caterpillars as male and butterflies as female, so I’ll continue on this premise. If I’m incorrect, please let me know.
Back to the story … into a vase on the windowsill the branch with Mr Fatterpillar on it was gently placed. Right in front of the kitchen sink, in the morning sun, where I could regularly observe. Next morning Mr Fatterpillar was in the water at the base of the vase. Bugger! I was supposed to save him, not drown him! I scooped him out of the water, got a fresh branch and supported him on a leaf until eventually his feelers started moving. I’m so grateful that I’d completed my first aid refresher last month, although no CPR was required here! I had no idea that caterpillars could survive in water!
Within a day he found a place to hang and become a ‘J’ and within a very short time the fatterpillar was a chrysalis! I was so excited! I’d saved the last fatterpillar! Go me! Upon checking the trees every day I’ve not seen any other babypillars, eggs or otherwise possibly due to the wasps or the birds.
There’s something quite magical about Mother Nature isn’t there? I’ve been watching the chrysalis every day as it hangs on the branch above the kitchen windowsill and I can see the butterfly wings forming at the top as it slowly darkens in preparation for the next phase of life. I wish I’d noted down the time frames of this as it’s been years since I tracked the life cycle of the caterpillar – in fact, I think it was at primary school! The chrysalis appeared within what seemed hours of the fatterpillar becoming a ‘J’.
Well … this morning I couldn’t believe my eyes! No way! How was this possible? It wasn’t the chrysalis, because it’s still green and slowly blackening up as they do. Can you guess? After having branches in that vase for what I guess is about 10 days, I see we have three babypillars! What?? No way!! I’ve no idea wherefore henceforth they came, however they are there. I’m so excited as I’ll now get to see three more fatterpillars who will live, chrysalise and butterfly off!
You may be asking, what’s all this got to do with anything? Well … beautiful things often happen out of nowhere, and we often don't stop to notice. The learning for me in all this is that if I'm watching and noticing, carefully and closely, I'll see the magic. Part of being mindful is being present, stopping and noticing. What magic is happening around you that you’re not noticing I wonder? I’m off to pick a few more swan plant branches for my vase to see if there’s more magic to be had!
"... there is magic all around you, if I do say so myself, I've known this much longer than I've known you ..." - Stevie Nicks, Rooms on Fire.
TLC = tender loving care
CPR = cardio pulmonary resuscitation
Babypillar - baby caterpillar
Fatterpillar - very fat large caterpillar
Chrysalise - transitioning from fatterpillar to chrysalis