Up Close and Personal With Car the Cecropia


(Imagine me whispering this so that they don't stop laying eggs on me.) 

Car, our Cecropia caterpillar?  Might be more fascinating than the chickens.  

Since I last updated, we've had several new developments.

First off, we've solved the food source problem.  (We were formerly poaching crab apple leaves from an unknown neighbor.)  We were in my friend's backyard for her birthday party a few weeks ago when I looked up and nudged Sweet Husband, "That's a crab apple tree!".  While my friend was puzzled for a moment as to why we would want them, after we explained, she happily said we could come prune leaves from her tree anytime we'd like.

Also, we've moved Car to a bigger habitat.  His jar seemed to be getting crowded, and the leaves were wilting quickly.  So I moved him to our salad spinner with a piece of cheesecloth tied over the top.  To keep the leaves fresher--without leaving open water for Car to drown in--I poked holes in the lid of a take-out container (see the top picture) and poked the stems through into some water.

But the biggest news is that he's shed his skin twice now!  The first time I was really afraid he was dead.  He perched on a leaf and just laid there for about 12 hours.  I persevered and did not touch him or move him.  And when I woke up the next day his old skin was shriveled up on the floor of his habitat, and he was happily munching on a fresh leaf.

The second time, I knew what was happening, and I actually just barely missed seeing the skin split off.  When I went to take a shower this morning he was in his old skin, and when I came back down for breakfast he was in his new.

Comparing his color when we got him to this page, I think he was in his third instar (stage/skin) when we brought him home.  That means he's now into his fifth, and last, instar, and the next thing will be making his cocoon.  Then I need to decide if we're going to keep him in the fridge to overwinter or put him outside.  Apparently both are reasonable options, but I need to do a bit more research to figure out what will be best for our situation.