Seeing as I ran a 5k this weekend....seeing as I felt a little transformed by the experience...and then seeing these photos of a bizarre fascination I had while on vacation, I give you: A Caterpillar's Journey into Butterflydome, a.k.a. I can't find the right set-up to install my 5k photos.
A caterpillar's pre-butterfly regimen is tough. Forget about all of the leaf-eating marathons you see on tv. Imagine "The Biggest Loser" of the animal world. It's gaining 200 pounds and then having to crawl miles away to live in some barren, leaf-free space. This guy here is making the journey. Let's follow along.
Step one: The Cranky, Slow, Leaking Poison phase. Don't f*ck with him, man. He's on a journey.
Step two: the crawl. (I've condensed the three hours into two shots. The classic underachiever, this guy decided he'd crawled enough for one day and secured himself in pretty much the way you see in photo two, except sideways. I didn't get it. Let's hope it's not a death sentence.)
Picking up with a higher-acheiving brother in another corner: step three, the whole-body-shaking, moon-boot crunches phase. It looked painful.
Step four and five: going fetal. Curl position becomes permanent and things get a little softer around the edges. The caterpillar head is gone, and something new appears. It starts to look a little like the pattern of veins a butterfly has on its wings. I can't be sure if that's just what a cocoon looks like though.
As for the final most exciting step? I have no photodocumentation of this. Sorry for being such a tease, BUT in my defense, I'm definitely not the only one. A good google search of butterfly/caterpillar species in Ecuador, left me with an hour and a half of wasted time. On the positive side, Tulane's entomology website had one more hit than it had two years ago, but that's beside the point. It seems it's pretty tough to get photos of the caterpillar growth cycle from start to finish. All of which begs the question, "Whyy?" Years ago, "Reading Rainbow" taught me that documenting and raising caterpillars to cocoondom and later butterflyhood was like the thing to do in Kindergarten. What's happened since then? I took these shots from the patio of my hostel while I was on vacation. It was easy. We're talking about caterpillars here. They don't move fast. I've got to give you something though, so in lieu of the final photo, I encourage you to find Kristen Schaal's 2009 Comedy Central stand-up during which she tells the tale of Clarence the Caterpillar. Pure gold.