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December 9th from the 84 eyes of the new larvae

 

It’s been almost a week since I was extracted from my nice, cozy seed head: the only home I had ever known. Sometimes I still miss it- I had chewed through at least a third of the achenes there, and made nice holes in the base. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more comfortable than when I was firmly lodged within an achene. I also don’t know if I’ve ever been more uncomfortable than when I found myself squished in the grasp of a pair of tweezers. Suddenly, my home and everything I’ve known fell away, and I landed in a pit with lots of others like me. The floor was cluttered with achenes, but the structure was nothing like my old seed head. Moreover, the walls were clear. It looked as if escape would be quick- it is not, believe me, I tried. Something about plastic just doesn’t connect well with my prolegs. Speaking of prolegs, I, and all my kin, have four.  It’s a trait characteristic of us caterpillars. Those silly humans probably thought we could have been flies or beetles before looking at our prolegs.

Today is significant, because our numbers have grown to the point where our measly petri dish jail was no longer doing us justice. After a rough and tumble fall into a new container, we’re all feeling a little better. Here we’ve been given a seed head and soil, just in case we decide either of those places are where we’d like to pupate. Things are starting to look up.

(Q: Wait, where did 84 come from? A: We have found about 14 caterpillars, each of whom has 6 pairs of eyes.)

(Q: So, what species are the larvae? A: We still don’t know. It’s possible they are codling moths, but those tend to prefer fruits like apples- more juicy than achenes. It’s also possible they’re banded sunflower moths, which appear just as pink in later larval stages as these larvae do),

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