Latitude 17N

Monday, January 19, 2009

Julian's farm

For Christmas, Julian received an ant farm and a butterfly pavilion. Added to his current pet, he now has approximately 28 pets! Shortly after Christmas he received his caterpillars in the mail. There were two jars, pictured above, with 5 caterpillars each. They come with a brown gunk in the bottom of the jar which is the food that they will eat and fatten up on. After about a week the caterpillars had fattened up and crawled up to the top of the jar where they attached themselves to a little paper disc at the top and cocooned up. It was weird to watch this process. They would attach to the top and then you would see them swing wildly at the top for a while. I guess this motion somehow helps the cocoon process. It was very strange to watch. After that they hang quietly. Then we took the disc out and pinned it into the mesh "pavilion." They are still in their metamorphosis and waiting to "hatch." Shortly after he got the caterpillars, the ants arrived. There were 18 or so ants in a vial. They are harvester ants, which bite, so we had to be careful getting them in the farm. His particular farm is one that was developed by NASA to study how ants work in zero gravity. They developed a gel that would keep them from being crushed when leaving and entering the atmosphere. His ants have been very diligent and have dug many tunnels and work spaces. Julian likes to watch them work and "socialize." At one point, shortly after we put them in, he thought they were having a meeting because they were all huddled together. They do this from time to time, and he also thinks they are trying to keep warm with each other all "huddled up.". The ants will live for approximately 2-3 months and then he can catch his own ants and start over if he wants. Once the butterflies hatch we will wait for a nice day and set them free. His fish, a Beta named Rocky--named after the great Mr. Balboa--is a hurricane survivor. He was left at home during Gustav to "hold down the fort" with a 7-day feeder tablet. He lived without electricity for 10 or so days. Julian says, "he is a survivor, I guess I picked the right name." Haha.


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