I got up this morning and went out to look at the monarch caterpillars. To my utter astonishment, one was hanging from a leaf, thrashing around, with what looked like a small, semi-transparent rootlet dangling from it’s mouth!
I watched a little longer, thinking that it might just have started spinning its chrysalis. Then I noticed that the “rootlet” was writhing independently, and realized (with some disgust) that I was looking at a roundworm that had parasitized the caterpillar and was now emerging!
Mike’s uncle Steve and I carefully pulled the worm out using tweezers. It was astonishingly long – easily five or six inches – and about as thick in cross section as the period at the end of a sentence in your average paperback novel. I was amazed that it had fit into a caterpillar that only the day before had been eating actively and growing rapidly.
I was even more amazed a few minutes later as roundworm after roundworm appeared. We removed a few more in hopes that the caterpillar might survive, but after the eighth one appeared, we gave up and put the caterpillar out of its misery. I was half inclined to etherize it and dissect it to see just how many roundworms had managed to grow in this seemingly healthy caterpillar, but lacking the appropriate tools, let the poor thing go.
So that was my morning encounter with the wonders of nature. Between that and the poison ivy, I’m almost glad to be going back to the city!
Did more bobbin lace this morning. I’ve now finished four exercises and am working on a fifth. I’ve gotten a lot more confident both in the basic stitches and in troubleshooting my mistakes. Still spending nearly as much time undoing as weaving, but the ratio is improving. When I get back, I will probably take one or two courses at the local lace society to check that I’m doing it right, but I’m pretty happy with my progress so far.
I’ll post a photo of the caterpillar with the roundworm emerging once I get back – I took a photo with the big camera but the iPhone doesn’t do closeups well. It looks terrible and fascinating all at once.