I will answer that very important question later.
My wife and I are creating what we hope will be a sanctuary for birds and butterflies in our back yard. We have purchased some really neat things at Wildbirds Unlimited. If you have never visited one of their stores, you should try it. They have feed, houses, feeders, books, etc. We have also purchased some plants that will hopefully attract birds and butterflies.
Why are we doing this? Well, the acceptable answer would be, “Because we care about the welfare of all living things.” And that is certainly a big part of our motivation. The other, more selfish part, is that we enjoy watching them do their thing. So, the more of the creatures we can bring into our environment, the better the entertainment.
For instance, we purchased a hummingbird feeder that had three feeding stations, hoping to see three hummingbirds feeding together. Well, that didn’t happen. The fact is that hummingbirds are very territorial, and will seldom share sugar water with one another. They will spend a lot of time and energy chasing each other away from what they consider to be their very own food source. So we bought five smaller feeders and spaced them far enough apart, so now we can observe several birds feeding simultaneously, but at different locations.
Have you ever watched hummingbirds chase each other? It is like watching the aerial combat scenes from Star Wars. They are so fast, it is hard to keep up.
We have also added new bird feeders to our back yard. Our previous feeders were in front of our house, where they were not easily observed. Plus, the squirrels had ready access to the bird food. Now we have squirrel proof feeders in a location where we can see the birds. Oh, don’t get all teary-eyed about the squirrels. We feed them under the big pecan tree. They are not starving.
So, what is the answer to the burning question in the title? If you are talking about butterflies, the answer is chrysalis, not cocoon. I have lived for many years not knowing that fact. I always referred to the metamorphosis stage of butterflies as cocoons. Cocoons are a silk covering that some moths spin around their chrysalis, but not butterflies.
The butterfly caterpillar sheds its skin many times as it is growing. The last skin it grows when it is full grown is a hard shell, called a chrysalis. Inside this shell, the caterpillar liquifies, and reconstructs what will become a beautiful butterfly. That’s a very simplified version of what happens, but simple is what I like.
What makes caterpillars and butterflies so interesting to me is the fact that they have a “destiny” of sorts, and will do what ever it takes to fulfill that “destiny.” If you have not read the book entitled Hope for the Flowers, by Trina Paulus, do yourself a favor and buy one on Amazon. It is a wonderful tale about what happens if caterpillars don’t understand their purpose in life. The message is powerful.
Oops, gotta go! There’s a hummingbird chase happening outside my window.
All photos by Regina Dale.