1-4) The three pipevine swallowtail caterpillars I saw in McDade
5) My second batch of io moth caterpillars molted for the second time
6-8) My first batch of io moth caterpillars also molted, for the third time
9) When I got back from McDade, I found a few tawny emperor escapees. I was gone too long and their leaves dried up. They always start escaping when they’re hungry.
I made my own bios/headcanons for the other members of Chariot’s team since we literally know nothing about them. The one on the left I’m naming Celestia Le’Blanc and the one on the right is Karin Willow. More under the cut!
“Cooking dragonflies usually involves some sweat equity on the front end. Swinging a net in classic insect nerd fashion in the heat of south Louisiana summers is typically the only way you can come by large numbers of these notoriously elusive bugs. But after having collected and frozen them, they can be made to taste very much like soft-shelled crab.
I treat dragonflies like fish in that they are run through an egg bath and then dredged in seasoned fish fry. Prior to the cooking of these critters, take equal parts butter, soy sauce, and creole or country-style Dijon mustard (about a tablespoon of each), mix, and heat in a small skillet for a couple of minutes on a low setting. This can be set aside in a little bowl. Then you need just two burners: on one, vegetable oil is over a medium heat in a shallow pan. On the other, sliced portobello mushrooms sauté in a very small amount butter with just a sprinkle of garlic powder.
When the oil is hot enough for frying, dragonflies go in for about thirty seconds, get flipped, and then cook for another thirty. This is perhaps a good time to note that these are delicate insects. In order to insure that they stay intact, I recommend repurposing an entomological tool known as featherweight tweezers and turning them into a culinary device: these wonderful forceps can be used to hold dragonflies by the wings both when prepping them for the pan (the egg and flour procedure) and when they are being turned in and removed from hot oil.
The scientific name for the order of insects to which dragonflies belong is Odonata. When we make this word English, we call them odonates. And so, in seeking a clever, alliterative name for this truly scrumptious dish, I came up with Odonate Hors d’Oeuvre. I describe it as lightly fried dragonflies on sautéed portobello mushroom.”
I had heard that Mother Neff State Park (which is halfway between Temple and Waco, TX) had cecropia moth caterpillars. These are the caterpillars of the largest native moth in North America (wingspans greater than 6 inches have been documented). And you know what you need to get a giant moth? A giant caterpillar.
I only found one (hiding in the plum tree right outside the visitor’s center!), and a couple cocoons (bottom two photos), so it seems that I came just in time. Any later and this one would have been in a cocoon too. The fun part: the unripe plums in the tree were the same exact color and texture as the caterpillar (he felt like velvet!), so despite being enormous, they are very well camouflaged.
He was very shy. He kept pulling his little face into his rolls to hide. Everything about it was perfect. A highlight of my week, for sure. Even if I didn’t get home until 3 am!
You try repeatedly to grab the flesh eating carrion bugs from the bones of the dead person, only to have them scamper away. A few bite your hand with this tiny sharp mandibles. It stings but not enough to lose any HP. You do manage to grab one but it doesn’t absorb into your inventory. And then it bites you. It seems like you cannot absorb live creatures into your internal inventory. And it seems that any you put in your new pouch would just bite at you from the inside before escaping.
It doesn’t seem worth the effort to collect these vicious little things.