I check the Spicebush leaves for signs of Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars. These caterpillars are builders! They fold over leaves and bind them with silk.
This year, I spotted two Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars. Last year, I brought caterpillars indoors and enjoyed watching their transformation. They start off as a brownish color. Then, they grow much larger and become a beautiful vibrant green with almost cartoonish markings. Finally, they bloat up and turn a golden color before forming a chrysalis.
I have been examining the practice of rearing caterpillars in captivity. I decided on a “hands off” approach. For a few days, I enjoyed spotting the caterpillars in their leafy homes. Then, one day, I lost track of one of the caterpillars. As they grow, they will often create new, larger homes. It may have moved, or it could have succumbed to predation. I will never know.
But, the second caterpillar remained in its home. Until, one day, I peered into the leaf and was surprised by a wasp. The wasp seemed to be relishing the remains of my friend.
That’s not a caterpillar!
Observations of the natural world can often seem cruel to us. In some ways, I regret my lack of intervention. This caterpillar could be safe inside the enclosure, growing towards becoming a beautiful butterfly. But, wasps need to eat too.