One of the most exciting aspects of an outdoor classroom are the magical moments that occur spontaneously. A few days ago, a group of Pre-K students found this lovely creature creeping along in the mulch by the stage.
We spent some time trying to name its distinguishing characteristics. Then, we leafed through Peterson First Guide to Caterpillars of North America and found a possible match.
Our best guess was that it was a Luna Moth larva. The children scooped up some surrounding vegetation and lovingly placed it in a clear creature box. Just to make sure we had the right environment for our caterpillar, we added leaves known to be a favorite for this squishy, green larva.
The next morning the children were excited to check on their newest friend. This is what they found:
There was some initial disappointment that our caterpillar was no longer active in its temporary habitat. However, once we discussed the monumental metamorphosis going inside this bland little leaf ball, the children forgave the wee bug.
We have decided that the cocoon must be returned to its natural habitat as soon as possible. We read that the Luna Moth pupa must stay in its cocoon all winter long. We are pretty sure our classroom will not reach the required winter temperatures. Although we are sad that we will not get to see the beautiful moth emerge in the spring, we are pleased to have witnessed this small bit of magic along the way.