July 23, 2008 - Hey there, Cutie

What we have here is a Tiger Swallowtail butterfly larvae. It is a caterpillar in it's late stages that is looking to build a chrysalis to begin it's change into butterfly mode. A lady and her family brought it into the nature center last night in an ice cream bucket after she said it fell out of a tall poplar tree next to her with a loud thwap. (She said she looked down and at first had thought her four-year-old daughter had thrown a dog turd at her)
Anyway, when somebody brings in anything from the insect world and wants to ID it, I say, "we might as well just get the field guides out right now" because there are WAY to many names in this animal kingdom for me to even attempt to remember, much less pronounce. But we nailed it down pretty quickly. The prominent "eyes", which are actually "false eyes" to make it look bigger and nastier to it's foes, are a dead giveaway.
Remember that one Jimi Hendrix costume he wore with the big eyes on it? The guy was ahead of his time.

Siah tells me the brown color is indicative of the last stages of caterpillardom, making it look somewhat of a cross between a Tootsie-roll and a Rapala.
Here she is already setting up some strings for the chrysalis (or cocoon, loosely translated), I'll be interested to see what that looks like.
I said we would give the family metamorphic updates and that they could visit again and see the progression. She's in with the Cecropias, it's a good neighborhood. I go back in tonight, I can hardly wait to see what happened!

Okay, big doin's ahead: work tonight at SB, this weekend photograph the entire Friends of the Mississippi River Canoe and Bicycle Challenge event, first rent a big lens from West, and get my Peace Garden photography cards and posters to JoAnn B. to sell on Sunday. Oh yeah and write the interpretive program to teach teachers about the Mississippi River Gorge from a 12-foot Voyageurs canoe while floating the river on Monday. Oh and make new business cards with the SmugMug address on them before tomorrow. First and foremost: Feed the turtle!