My kids are completely desperate for a pet. They’ve been collecting dozens of those fuzzy caterpillars that are everywhere lately, and then they proceed to treat them like a small animal. They make grass beds for them, they pet them, they squeeze them, they build play areas for them, they bathe and feed them. And then if they’re still living, they put them to bed.
I wasn’t sure how to handle all the love they’ve been demonstrating to these little guys until I heard them call one, “Wormy”, for the hundredth time. I knew they were not worms, but I wasn’t sure what they really were. So began our research on these guys:
- “Wormy Research”: I asked Maddy and Owen if they knew anything for sure about their pets–What they ate? Where they slept? What they’d become? Where do they live?
No one was sure, so after we took some pictures and put them on the computer, we had a little lesson on internet research. We talked about what words we should put in our search, and they came up with “black”, “fuzzy”, “caterpillar”, and I added, “Maryland”. We glanced at the sites that came up, and we decided that the first two wouldn’t work and that this one and this one were definitely not our caterpillar. Then we checked the “what’s this caterpillar” site and still didn’t find our guy.
We finally stumbled upon our man: the Eastern Tent Caterpillar. We compared pictures, and Maddy and Owen literally jumped out of their pants, they were so excited. From here, I searched “Eastern Tent Caterpillar”, and we learned that they were once Bug of the Week and are starring in some crazy videos on YouTube.
Everyone stared open-mouthed at the screen through a few videos, but then we went back to our searching. We learned that they live in nests that look like tents, that they eat leaves (but not real food) like our familiar friend, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and that they turn into brown moths–not the beautiful butterflies that we’d hoped.
I think a cool follow-up to this research would be to re-read The Very Hungry Caterpillar or another book about caterpillars; we head to the library next week and will pick something up. I may even pick up The Very Hungry. . . in Spanish to mix it up a bit. There are a gazillion caterpillar crafts out there, but Owen came home with a cute finger-print caterpillar on a leaf last week, so I didn’t want to overdo it.
So it was just a little bit of real-life science research and learning today; hopefully it’s something that will really stick with my kiddos because it was meaningful and helpful for them. I’m hoping it will at least hold them over until we get a dog. . .