Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A little anachronism

A little anachronism
Originally uploaded by Lone Primate.

Today at lunch time I took off to a nearby park to shoot a bunch of photos at varying exposure levels, because I want to try out Photoshop's new HDR capacity. On my way back to the car, I spotted this little caterpillar, crawling with painful slowness over the snow. I just couldn't leave it there, and it seemed cruel to kill it when there were other options. So, I put it in my cap and brought it back to the office and dropped it off in the terrarium at work.

I suppose it was hopeless anthropomorphization on my part. The caterpillar probably doesn't have feelings, wasn't afraid, didn't feel relief in the warm car and couldn't possibly have been grateful; but who knows? And I have no idea what species it is; if it will find palatable food in the terrarium, if it will be a moth or a butterfly if it lives that long. But at least it has a chance now. I don't know if it makes any difference in the scheme of things. Probably not. Maybe it was really only an act of kindness with any real value to myself. It made me feel more human; empowered to do something merciful because I could, and chose to. I feel like a better person for having done this one small thing. Maybe that's all there really is.


Donwatcher said...

This is likely a woolly bear caterpillar, the larval stage for a tiger moth. It does live through the winter usually hiding in leaf litter and then feeds again in the spring. It probably came out because of the warm temperatures.

If you want to feed it, try the leaves of any herbaceous plant such as dandelion, lettuce, even grass.

Ferdzy said...

Hi Donwatcher, fancy meeting you here. I was just about to say Woolly Bear. Although I don't see the usual stripe.

Donwatcher said...

Hi Ferdzy, I guess we have similar tastes in blogs... anyways, I looked up woolly bear in my newest field guide - Caterpillars of Eastern North America. Apparently there are two species that use this common name, Pyrrharctia isabella and Spilosoma virginica. Both are tiger moths, the first resembles the picture a little better. The second species is highly variable in colouration with yellow and white haired larval forms. The brown form does have a dark line on its back so maybe that is what you are referring to. If CITT is reading this, apparently romaine lettuce works best for feeding as long as its been washed.


Lone Primate said...

I'm afraid that little guy is on his own. :) The terrarium is on the 2nd floor, and about six feet from anyone's aid (aside from the folks who tend it, I guess). As it was, I had to gently toss the caterpillar onto the leaves, but the operation was a success, as they say. I really can't say if it'll suit... I hope so... but all I knew was I wanted to do something, and with my limited knowledge, that seemed like my best option. I guess I'll never know unless I see a moth in the building this spring. :) All I know (or suspect) is that if I'd left it there, the caterpillar would be dead by now, either frozen or perhaps eaten (it was rather exposed), but I'm reasonably sure it's still wrigglin' in the terrarium, and where they're life there's hope, as the Jewish proverb goes.