When I first started this painting, I thought about how a caterpillar is plump like a Thanksgiving Day balloon. Then, as I ruminated on how completely different this entity is from a butterfly, the word “miraculous” came into my head. I was intrigued by the scientific process and want to share Mr. Gordon Ramel’s explanation from his website  www.earthlife.net: “The first thing that happens is that a lot of the caterpillar’s old body dies. It is attacked by the same sort of juices the caterpillar used in its earlier life to digest its food, it would not be far wrong to say the caterpillar digests itself from the inside out, this process is called “histolysis”… There is one particular sort of tissue left, in a number of places in the insect’s body are collections of special formative cells, which have played no part in the insects larval life, and have stayed hidden or protected during this partial death, each of these groups of cells is called an “imaginal bud” or a “histoblast”. The job of these histoblasts is to supervise the building of a new body out of the soup that the insects digestive juices have made of the old larval body… This rebuilding process is called “histogenesis”. During this time the insect is very vulnerable because it cannot run away, and this is why insects try to choose somewhere safe to hide away when they are going through this incredible change, still I think you have to be very brave to be a Caterpillar and become a Butterfly or a Moth.”

Brave and miraculous indeed.


2 responses

  1. Despite all the scientific names and their attempts to explain how this all happens, a caterpillar’s change into a butterfly is still one of the most amazing things I’ve ever witnessed. And I love how you portray the flying caterpillars in your whimsical drawing!

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