We had a very relaxing day today. The only thing on our schedule was Jazzercise this morning. And Steve was even working from home today.
Our big excitement came from the back yard. With the swing set up and going, we look for any excuse to go out and play. So after lunch, when Reid went down for a nap, Jack and I played on the swing set for a bit. While we were there, we found caterpillars.
After a little research, it seems that they are Eastern Tent Caterpillars. They will turn into moths eventually. Not the pretty moths, unfortunately. Just plain old grayish brown moths. But for now, they are pretty cool to watch.
They move pretty quickly too. Jack found the first of three and had me come down to see it. He set up a nice grass bed for it along with a rock "cave" for it to sleep in. He also tried to feed it some grass. While we were intently staring at "Rocky," another caterpillar snuck up on us. We turned around, and there he was sitting on the wood behind us. Jack then proceeded to set up another grass bed. We stepped away for a moment to search out other caterpillars along the wooden edge of the swing set only to return and find a third making his way along the wooden frame.
Jack was beyond excited. I was given the task of watching the caterpillars while he explored the area. I was a good watcher and watched caterpillar #3 run away into the mulch. The other two waited nicely for Jack to return.
My mom and Jack actually noticed the first evidence of the Eastern Tent Caterpillars a few weeks ago. They were outside playing and saw the tents the caterpillars build way up at the top of one of our trees. There were two in our yard, and they weren't small. You can see an example if you look it up on Wikipedia.
Caterpillars aren't the only interesting living things in our back yard lately. We have a lively colony of butterflies too. Again, a little research led me to identify them as Red Admiral butterflies. I haven't been able to capture a photo of any despite there being at least 15 flying around the yard at any one time. One even landed on Jack's back today while he was busy with the caterpillars. Hopefully that wasn't a case of butterfly jealousy.
Now, all of my research on caterpillars and butterflies was done tonight, after Jack had fallen asleep. We did research one flying visitor together today. There was a ginormous bee flying around our yard, and it scared the beejesus out of Jack. He was up on the swing set by himself after rest, and the bee paid him a visit. I learned of the visit by the piercing screams. No, the bee did not sting Jack. He just flew a little too close for comfort. So Jack and I looked up bees on the internet together. We think it was a carpenter bee. Those don't sting unless dreadfully provoked. That seemed to calm Jack a bit.
All of this insect identification has given me the willies. I have to admit, though, it is pretty fun watching Jack interact with the "wildlife." I guess this is another nice thing about where we live.
Here are some other pictures from our day!