Monday, February 18, 2013
The Hungry Caterpillar
I have a limau purut or kaffir lime plant, and the lime leaves and juice are often used in tomyam soup. Can't remember when I bought the plant but it was many years ago.
Unfortunately, I never harvested any limes out of the plant. Instead, I 'harvested' many caterpillars. Don't know why they just love lime leaves. I tried spraying pesticide on them but I dun like the idea of 'poisoning' my lime leaves. So, after that, I just get hubby to get rid of it when caterpillars appear.
I hate caterpillars, worms, earthworms and anything that squirms. The fear started when I had to sweep the floor for my dad's old room in our Alexandra flat. Being a hawker, there were boxes of canned and processed food in that room. When I finally sweeping the floor, there were lots of tiny white worms squirming on the floor. I screamed to my dad. Who just matter of factly, told me to sweep into the dustpan and throw away. I wasn't even wearing room slippers at that age so I hated to see them squirming so near my feet. Ee....
Two weeks ago, another caterpillar was happily munching on my lime leaves and making big ugly holes. I was about to get hubby, our seasoned caterpillar catcher, to catch it and throw it away again. But I remembered that my colleague told me it is an excellent way for my daughter to learn about the life cycle of the butterfly if I keep it in a container with holes and feed it with leaves. Then my gal can slowly see how it turns into a butterfly and we can set it free at the end.
Sounds like an easy project to do since I got plenty of lime leaves and 'tapow' containers and it will be a valuable science lesson for RaeAnne. So, I bite back my distaste and fought back my fear for worms. Never knew such a day will come but I actually told hubby to create a home for the only creature that I truly hated. RaeAnne, see how much Mummy loves you. ;P
It was only about 1 cm long when we first caught the caterpillar. Wish I remember to take a picture then. After almost 1 week of devouring my lime leaves, it can eat up to 3-4 leaves in 1 day! The caterpillar grew very fat, long and its colour turned GREEN! Looks like it is true when they say 'You are what you eat'. Obviously, it ate too many lime leaves and took on its colour. Probably for camouflage purposes so that a hungry bird doesn't eat it up. The ingenuity of nature.
RaeAnne wanted to bring the caterpillar to childcare on the Friday before Chinese New Year but I forgot to pack it for her. So, she brought it last Thurs, 1 week later, when school resumed. I thought the CC gals will scream but I was wrong. Every kid, boy or girl, was curious and crowded around RaeAnne and her pet caterpillar. It was as if she brought a lovable kitten or puppy to school. Can't help admiring the innocence of childhood. I think the only one who was squirmish about the caterpillar (besides Me) was RA's CC teacher, Teacher Samantha. A K2 girl even took RaeAnne's caterpillar away to show off to her friends. So, poor Teacher Samantha had to get it back for her. Haha.
The caterpillar turned into a chrysalis last Fri. Googled and found out that it can take up to 2 weeks before a butterfly will emerge from the cocoon (chrysalis). Wow, quite a long wait. Meanwhile, we have removed the container cover and upgraded the caterpillar to a bigger home, our old fish tank. I hope it survives the metamorphosis so that we can finally see what is the colour of the butterfly... ;)