Christmas Cat

It is a chilly noon on Christmas Eve. Why is this caterpillar munching milkweed at the top of a branch in full sun? Unlike in the summertime when sun threatens to overheat a monarch caterpillar so they scurry to the shade of a shelter plant —  here we are at the winter solstice when Sol is farther from Earth. Our caterpillars eagerly dine exposed, even at noon. These cats might be migrants from the midwest, for whom low-60 degrees is balmy. They remind me of human snowbirds who, visiting California in December, revel in lunching at a patio table when we West Coast residents prefer to hunker down  indoors. This plump cat was having such a good time on a cool day with an alfresco lunch that it had to twist around the leaves at the top of the branch in order to stay attached while enjoying second helpings. It’s big but still kind of wrinkly, so probably this one has an additional phase or Instar before it forms a chrysalis.

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