Baby Blues and scientific literacy

Anne Kilmer viceroy at
Mon Feb 7 14:38:10 EST 2000

The poor fellow who wrote *The Very Hungry Caterpillar* has received
letters from every second-grade class that has come down the pike for
the last ten years. He has suffered enough. 
The perpetrator of Baby Blues will also be adequately punished by second
graders. I think we can just let nature take its course here. 
At least he resisted the impulse to allow Hammie to stomp the
Didn't you see this coming when the daddy explained to the kids what the
caterpillars would do? 
It was too late to straighten him out when we saw this (I'm sure there's
a web page) because comic strips arrive at the newspaper two weeks
before they appear. 
I think there's love, and then there's scientific accuracy. I believe
that love will be served here, and that scientific accuracy will catch
up when children attempt to duplicate the phenomenon. 
I notice, sitting at plant sales with a table of caterpillars and a box
of chrysalids, that most of the parents call the chrysalids cocoons
My concern is that this is February, and I don't know where these people
live, but are they going to release their butterflies into the snow? 
My granddaughters' school gets their Painted Ladies in time to let them
loose in November in Maryland. This is not good, at least from the
butterfly's point of view.  

But, you know, this is a comic strip. Really rather an enlightened and
realistic one, but still a comic strip. I would like to applaud the
artist's enterprise and sensitivity, and blow off the part about the
cocoon. It's a pity he didn't say two weeks rather than a week, but
this, too, will work itself out. 
There are, in my opinion, better places to aim our indignation. 
Anne Kilmer
South Florida
Laurel Godley wrote:
> Martha et al,
> I think your concern is actually founded but let me provide a point of
> perspective.
> Long time favorite children's book, The Hungry Caterpillar (I believe it
> is,) also makes the very same mistake.  The caterpillar spins a cocoon and
> emerges as a beautiful butterfly.  Disney took liberties with it's "Bugs
> Life" movie too.
> There is in fact a type butterfly native to the US that spins cocoons.  It
> is called a parnassus and is considered a member of the swallowtail family.
> I'm in the process of rearing some now.  So I do not actually know how many
> weeks or months it takes for the butterfly to emerge.
> In the case of the hungry caterpillar book, the author does mention on his
> webpage that he took some liberties and correctly refers to the parnassus as
> a unique example of a cocoon spinning butterfly.  So I suppose that my
> complaint to him would be that caterpillars don't really eat all those
> things and that the butterfly that emerges in the book is too colorful to be
> a parnassus.
> Hope this helps...  Laurel
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