A few weeks ago we had some family visiting from out of state. We wanted to show them some of the local sites. One of the things we went to see was the Trona Pinnacles. They are huge rock formations in the middle of the desert. They were formed from deposits when the desert was underwater millions of years ago. They are pretty fascinating. But as cool as the pinnacles are, my children were much more fascinated by a carsick caterpillar.
About the last four miles of the trip is on a dirt road. I was leading the minivan caravan, and with a clear view, I was surprised to see things crawling all over the road. My curiosity got the better of me, and I stopped my car, and got out to take a closer look. Every couple of feet, or so, there were ugly caterpillars crawling through the dirt. They were the biggest caterpillars I had ever seen! Some of them were bigger around than my fingers and longer than the span of my hand! They were green and black with orange horns.
Being a thoughtful (although throughly grossed-out mom) I grabbed an empty water bottle and scooped up one of the largest caterpillars for my bug-loving daughter and sons. All the children in my car ooed and awed over such a fascinating creature. One son in the backseat called dibs on holding it, and I was grateful to have it as far away from me as possible.
We spent a couple of hours hiking and enjoying the sites. When we all got too hot we climbed back in the car for the ride home. There weren’t nearly as many caterpillars out due to the heat. I was ok with that. The thought of my tires squishing over dozens of creepy crawlies gave me the shudders.
As we pulled into our driveway, a voice called out from the backseat, “Hey, Mom!! You should see what the caterpillar did!” I feigned interested and took a look at the water bottle that was housing the children’s treasure for the day. I could still see the caterpillar in there, but only barely. Nearly the whole inside of the bottle was covered in what looked like chewed up leaves that had been regurgitated. I felt even more nauseous than before! I’m not sure whether the caterpillar got sick from being in captivity, having the bottle passed around between children, or from bump roads. Whatever the answer, though, I was not about to let it into my house.
The kids all made me promise not to throw it away until their daddy got home. The moment his truck pulled up to the driveway, all the kids were outside to show him. He didn’t have to feign interest. I watched through the kitchen window as they all gathered around it. They debated whether it would eat the upchucked leaves or not. As their interest subsided, I had them throw the whole water bottle away. The thought of drinking out of it again made my stomach churn.
My kids will probably remember nothing about that day except for that carsick caterpillar. Life is always an adventure with kids and caterpillars alike.