The David Suzuki 30×30 Nature Challenge comes to end today! Or tomorrow if you missed a day. That would be our family. Earlier in the month we enjoyed a day with my parents — space museum visiting, dining out, and swimming at their hotel pool. That night I was horrified to discover that we hadn’t had any nature time! We failed! Alas, our habit was broken and the challenge lost.
However, out we went again the next day and the next, and the next… And we’ll go out again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next… As Dr. Scott Sampson says in his new book How to Raise a Wild Child, it’s “abundant experiences in wild or semi-wild places, typically close to home” that forge the deep connection with nature that I’m hoping to create with my children.
On one of our “close to home” outings we came upon a huge, black, bristling caterpillar. Imagine a solid black wooly bear, traditionally seen in the autumn, twice the usual size. My son picked it up and as it crawled over his hands we noticed that between the black bristles, the caterpillar had skin of dark red. Even I took a turn letting it crawl on my hand to experience the disconcerting feeling of its myriad of scratchy, sturdy feet marching relentlessly forward.
After everyone had a turn to hold this amazing creature — he really was huge — my daughter set him on a fallen log a few feet off the path from where we’d found him. And on we went.
When we got home we searched online and found a link that fit our description of “huge black bristly caterpillar” and as I scrolled down through the pictures, I knew we’d found a match: The Giant Leopard Moth!
But when the actual picture of the moth appeared, I jumped up — I’d seen this moth before in Hunting Red! I found our copy and started thumbing through. I had to go through several times before I found the picture on the dedication page. Yes, there it was — the moth and the caterpillar. Very exciting!
According to the article, the caterpillars eat the non-native invasive honeysuckle. We enjoy plucking the honeysuckle blossoms and sipping the tiny drop of liquid nectar. If you’ve never tried this, The Magic Onions has a short post on how to experience this sweet summer foraging ritual.
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