Pastimes (good and not as good)

August 13

August 13

August 13
Working in the garden this week we discovered a tobacco hornworm devouring one of my tomato plants.  Logically, I thought it should be fed to the chickens.  It would have been fun to watch them run around and chase each other over it.  But apparently, I am raising a little one named Larkspur who bears a striking resemblance to me as a child, and she wants to save every thing that moves.  So, now Mr. (or Mrs.) Hornworm is residing in a jar and being fed my tomato leaves no less.

August 13
The discovery of the blessed hornworm in combination with a couple of books that have been read in our house lately (Terry and the Caterpillars for the younger set, and Seth read A Girl of the Limberlost) has led to a new pastime:  caterpillar hunting.  Both Seth and I have added this caterpillar field guide to our respective wishlists.  His birthday is next month and mine’s not until December so he’s got a better shot at receiving it.

August 13
(We’ll talk about Beatrix’s new pastime as of yesterday in a minute.)

August 13
The first caterpillar found on yesterday’s hunt was this spiky stinging guy (it’s a saddleback caterpillar.) He was left alone.  According to Seth he turns into a boring little brown moth.

August 13
Seth made a list of caterpillars in our area along with what their food sources are.  That gives him and the other kids a place to start on their hunt, and also tells them what food to place in the jar with their captives.

August 13
Silas wanted to go too, but I didn’t let him.  Photo included because of curls.

August 13

August 13

This captive is already making it’s chrysalis.  It’s a variegated fritillary caterpillar and they eat violet leaves.

These are black swallowtail caterpillars.  We find them every year on our bronze fennel.

I guess the plan is to see these guys through their life cycles.  We’ll have to upgrade their facilities.  The jars won’t work for longterm.


Beatrix discovered a pacifier yesterday that I bought for Silas when he was a little baby.  He of course rejected the paci, just as Beatrix did when she was a baby.  However, she wanted to give it a go, so I thought I’d let her, figuring there wouldn’t be any harm in it.  She’s nearly four years old.  Obviously she won’t make a habit of it, right?  But the reality is that her overnight attachment to this rubber thing is a little concerning.  She does tend to go to extremes.  The other children are taking delight in snatching it from her mouth which leads her to cry out, “Paci!!  Paci!!,” in a tortured voice, and gives me yet another situation to have to mediate.

When Beatrix woke this morning, she found the pacifier and popped it in her mouth again.  In her nurturing big sister voice, Larkspur stated that Beatrix looks really cute with the pacifier in her mouth when she first wakes up and has sleepy looking eyes.  Oh, well then, we should let her keep it then.  It’s all about looks right?  No…the other way around.  I better take it before the problem grows.  This is after all the child I weaned at age two, only to have her take it up again months later when Silas was born and continue to nurse until she was three and I was losing my mind.


  1. We have been reading up about caterpillars too this week!

  2. Fina is 5 and she keeps taking Nola’s numnum (pacifier 🙂
    Fina is now officially called numnum by Nola 🙂

  3. Funny you mention “Girl of the Limberlost”. We just visited the Limberlost yesterday!
    I love that book. I hope to read Freckles and Keeper of the Bees soon.

  4. Oh, my just-turned-four year old would claim a pacifier as her own if she could. She of course rejected it as a babe! She would also gladly continue nursing, too, if not for my distracting her away from the comfort.

    We have some wild fennel near us – we’ll have to see if we can find some swallowtail caterpillars. Of course, our photos won’t be as lovely as yours!

  5. My three year old loved looking at your caterpillar pictures–thanks for sharing! He has a book about butterflies, moths, and caterpillars that he is fascinated with.

    The pictures of the kids heading out with their gear cracked me up–they look like such determined explorers! Good times!

  6. Hahaha. I caught the tiny view of the edge of the pacifier in the first photo. How funny.

    I absolutely love the caterpillar photos. And the curls on Silas.

  7. Now I see why your Beatrix reminds me so much of my Anne at that age. She was the one I nursed throughout her younger sister’s babyhood. After I finally weaned her at age three, her baby sister weaned herself six weeks later because of hand foot mouth disease. One of the big disappointments of my nursing years. Anyway, I love the caterpillar pictures! It inspires me to be more observant. Keep posting. My kids are grown and I relive their years vicariously when I read your blog.

  8. “Photo included because of curls.” Love that! 🙂

  9. Wow, you have a lot of caterpillers! We don’t find many in these parts they are very cool looking.

    🙂 Good luck with the dummy (paci)
    Just hide it overnight, then tell her you don’t know where it is, I would do it quickly!!

  10. beth lehman says:

    how do you identify caterpillars? do you use a book or do you just know them!! i love finding caterpillars and watching the life cycle, but we’ve only done monarchs..

  11. you have me laughing my head off….i love your wit 🙂

  12. oh my gosh, that’s so funny about the hornworm! Sounds like something my kids would do. I suppose he got punishment enough for eating your tomato plants, lol!

  13. My little man is currently outside collecting caterpillars as I sit here 🙂 We just recently raised a monarch caterpillar, what a magical process.

  14. Oh dear…. those hungry caterpillars. We’ve got five(!!) in a jar. Our bug book said that tomato hornworms turn into sphinx moths? So I have a very hopeful 6 & 9 year old watching & waiting!

  15. I think you are enabling Mr/Mrs Hornworm in his/her tomato leaf addiction.

    At least your kids don’t know the name my Irish brother-in-law has fun saying when he sees a pacifier: “dummy tit.”

  16. Too funny.

    Question: How do your boys research their caterpillars, if they don’t have the field guide yet? I’m starting to think I don’t have enough resources (art, science or otherwise!) just lying around my house.

    • We do have an audubon field guide to butterflies, but it isn’t thorough enough. We also do a lot of research online. Google image searches are great for helping with identification, you just have to be careful because every now and then inappropriate images pop up. Because of that, I do the image searches. I really like the website that I linked each species to in this post as well.

  17. Your photos are SO amazing! Brings back memories of hunting for catepillars as a child. I used to love it. Your children are very lucky!

  18. If there have been any big changes in the family, Bea may want the paci as an extra comfort thing, just as she did when Silas was born and she suddenly wanted to nurse again.

    Little Man is almost two years old and we’ve been having to re-wean him off his paci (or binky, as well call it in our house). When my husband had moved to California without us, Little Man had his binky pretty much all day, every day. He was upset that daddy moved without us. And then we moved to be with daddy….and his binky is still part of his daily wardrobe. We’re working on taking it away from him during the day. We’ll see….

  19. Oh she’s just like my Pip whose the same age! Pip never had a dummy but after finally weaning her just after her third birthday she begged for one when we were shopping one day and was inconsolable. Needless to say i caved and occasionally it makes an appearance when she’s overtired.

    That cute shot of B is priceless.


  20. I recognize that pacifier! It’s one of the all natural rubber ones, right? We have a few of those, too. I wanted Baby L to have something to comfort him (Since I wasn’t allowed to be with him for the whole day) when he had to have the MRI and all of those tests done. 🙁 Of course, he rejected it, as well. You know, I think my C would cling on to one of them just like Beatrix if she found them.

    Love the idea of caterpillar hunting! XOXO

  21. Love the caterpillar pictures, we have some around here too.
    I wanted to say from the other day that I knit while homeschooling to be calm, too.

  22. I love caterpillars… As long as I don’t have to touch them!

  23. Neat pasttime! Fun for the whole family. I have a two-year-old who loved his nookies, and I’m just a bit worried that he’ll want to take the baby’s nookies away when he gets here in (more or less) six weeks. I don’t plan on letting him! We’ve made a clear distinction that pacifiers are for babies, and this potty-trained guy is officially a big boy. Good luck getting it away from Beatrix! I’ve read that kids can get used to just about anything in 3 days (with consistency, of course), and I’ve found it to be blessedly true. 🙂

  24. ok, those Caterpillars are amazing! your area is just teaming with life!
    maybe if the paci is only for bedtime that might help? some kids just love to suck, it is comforting. good luck with that. 🙂

  25. Here’s the trick for getting rid of the paci: take a large pin (heat it with a flame, but wipe the pin before you poke it so it doesn’t leave a black hole — and of course do this when Bea is otherwise very busy) and poke it right in the middle of the nipple. It will no longer suck quite right. If that doesn’t deter her, take a scissors and nibble away just a tiny bit of the rubber — not so it looks like it’s been cut, but like it’s being worn out. Keep it up if necessary until it has a gaping hole in it. You can tell her pacis are for little babies and she must have too hard a “sucker” for it. This only works if there are no others.

  26. First: That saddleback caterpillar is about the neatest looking thing I’ve ever seen.

    Second: The pacifier…I never intended my children to use them, and lasted all of about 3 weeks after Julia came home before I gave in. Then I couldn’t wean her from it because her brother had one as well. Neither of them has used one for a year or so now, but I am quite sure Julia (who is about the same age as Beatrix) would happily use hers at night if we still had any around.

  27. Melissa L. says:

    Beautiful caterpillar pics! My 21 month old is really into The Very Hungary Caterpillar and enjoyed these pictures. We also used that paci and she loved it and I loved that it’s all natural. Bea does look sweet with it but you’ve probably got the right idea to nip it in the bud : )

  28. Great caterpillars. I haven’t found any that interesting over here, but then I guess I haven’t looked very hard 😉 A bug hunt is in order I think! Good luck with the paci (or dummy as we say here, not sure which is worse!) dismissal…! x

  29. The first caterpillar is so cool. I love that they go on hunts for them that is just too much fun.

  30. we’re using this natural rubber paci too!
    my almost 3yo loved it from the start… but now he’s very attached to it…

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