Wednesday, April 14, 2010


RIP Fred, some time ago. S/he made several unsuccessful attempts to spin a cocoon, went into metamorphosis as a sort of insect mummy-thing and quietly passed away without ever emerging as a moth.

Fred was the only survivor of our final batch of eggs.

When Princess Pea was very little, we were given five silkworms from the class batch by her lovely, very kind pre-prep teacher. Toddler Running Boy wrapped them in a tissue and raced about the house whizzing the bundle up and down in his little hand. "I am taking them for a rocket ride" he said indignantly when asked. "They like it." They did not. After several more, forbidden, rocket rides, the traumatised caterpillars refused to eat and wasted away gruesomely.

We tried again with some Grade 1 silkworms and did too well. (I asked the relief teacher to have one or two at the end of the year and got the whole damned lot, to Princess' ecstatic joy.) Within a few generations there were multitudes. The CFO and I took to releasing as many as we could "back into the wild", being the Peter Pan and Wendy AIDS Memorial Garden on Commercial Rd Prahran. This was mostly mulberry trees and where we got most of the silkworms' meals. The kids agreed, eventually, to keep only a few eggs. Unfortunately the batch we chose from this generation was dud. Few hatched and fewer survived.

I should have known when to stop but we'd planted a young mulberry tree. After we moved it had been too hard monitoring each footpatch-accessible mulberry tree between work & home and covertly harvesting leaves. We couldn't stomach any repeat of the Great Lettuce Disaster. (We tried feeding them lettuce and it must have been sprayed with insecticide - the silkworms went into convulsions and died, some like hard rubber and pink, some liquefied. We explained to the kids that vets generally did not treat silkworms. Of course some lived but the Princess believes genetic damage must have caused the end of their line.)
The petshop where we get crickets for the frogs had "seasonal" boxes of silkworms for sale. Snakes or large frogs must like them. They were exorbitantly expensive,
but here we go again: these are their offspring, next year's silkworms.

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