On Saturday night, about a month after Will captured his caterpillar “Friendy” and two and a half weeks after Friendy had spun a cocoon for himself, he finally emerged from his cocoon as a little grayish-brown moth. We’d begun to wonder if we’d have to give up on Friendy up as dead-in-cocoon after reading that it tent caterpillars generally stay two weeks in their cocoons. But due dates always vary and Friendy pulled through in the end.
When I asked Will if he noticed anything different about Friendy’s jar on Sunday morning, it took Will a minute to spot his new moth friend clinging to the screen at the top of the jar.
When he did he was ready to release Friendy on the spot:
“He’s ready to go out!” Will said. “I think he wanted to be in there a little longer so he could be into a bigger moth so all the other moths wouldn’t laugh at him.” And then Will addressed
Friendy through the jar: “Hey there, little friend.”
We gathered Grammy and Grandpa and Owen and Rob in the backyard to release Friendy. He (or she – only Will has determined Friendy’s gender as male) immediately clung to the underside of a wax myrtle leaf and prepared to wait out the hot day before he would presumably go out on a nighttime mating flight. His out-of-cocoon lifespan should be about five days or so, according to our research.
In the meantime, Will’s assuming Friendy will be attending moth school -- and he’s informed me that moths are able to talk to one another.
“Friendy won’t worry about talking at first,” Will explained to me, “because he’ll probably be shy when he meets all his moth friends at moth school. Right now he’s probably four.”
The perfect moth friend for a four-year-old sometimes shy boy. Maybe Friendy and his progeny will wind up gobbling up all the tree leaves in our yard, but we definitely enjoyed watching him grow and change and generally work his magic during his month on our kitchen counter.