Bugger! October 11, 2013Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
It’s that time of year again. It has been, for several weeks. The woolly bear caterpillars are crossing the roads.
When I can, I swerve—slightly—to avoid crushing them with indifferent tires.
I have crushed many. I’m sure of it. Woolly buggers!, I curse (this is anglerspeak).
I have a fondness for them, as well as a respect. Check out their Wikipedia entry, which I have refrained from copy editing:
The Isabella Tiger Moth (Pyrrharctia isabella) can be found in many cold regions, including the Arctic. The banded Woolly Bear larva emerges from the egg in the fall and overwinters in its caterpillar form, when it literally freezes solid. First its heart stops beating, then its gut freezes, then its blood, followed by the rest of the body. It survives being frozen by producing a cryoprotectant in its tissues. In the spring it thaws out and emerges to pupate. Once it emerges from its pupa as a moth it has only days to find a mate.
In most temperate climates, caterpillars become moths within months of hatching, but in the Arctic the summer period for vegetative growth—and hence feeding—is so short that the Woolly Bear must feed for several summers, freezing again each winter before finally pupating. Some are known to live through as many as 14 winters.
When I at last got an iPhone (about a year ago), Pyrrharctia isabella was the subject of my first short film, coming soon to a screen near you. As in, right now: