It all started when David found one, two, three, four caterpillars in the back yard. The first one got smooshed but the remaining three made it inside and into the gallon jar seen here. I should mention that these caterpillars are a long way from the Eric Carle ideal. This is the Eastern Tent caterpillar, a generally reviled little beast that destroys flowering trees (like the redbuds we found them on). They are destined to become small red-brown moths, or so the literature tells me.
It's a habit of mine (some would surely call it a coping mechanism) to philosophize about ickiness and thereby turn lemons into lemonade. But let me tell you something about Fuzzy, Mrs. Fuzzy, and Cousin Fuzzy: they poop a LOT. I supplied them daily with fresh redbud leaves, lovingly arrayed in an old spice jar. And daily the leaves were devoured, the cotton balls placed at the mouth of the jar to prevent death by drowning covered in caterpillar waste. I really should have gotten a picture. Fortunately that all stopped when they began to spin their wispy little cocoons. They worked slow and steady building a cottony fog around themselves, then turned and turned until they were mummified. I'm full of questions. How long will they stay like this? Do they need anything special? What happens when they emerge? I'm sure the internet has all the answers. Until then I'll just watch, a bit horrified, as nature performs one of its little miracles.