The Pet Lady


I was cutting open a bell pepper for a sandwich today and—what a surprise!– I found a full-grown caterpillar. I sloughed him off onto the counter with a spoon, and sure enough he was alive and started to move. I quickly shuttled him (in the spoon) to a potted plant and cut off some of the pepper for food. (I threw away the rest, seeing what I decided were almost certainly caterpillar poop nodules.)

After he escaped from the pot, I moved him to a nice jar with moist dirt in the bottom and, again, the piece of bell pepper. I’m excited to have him as a pet and have named him Pliny the Younger, but I have a couple of questions: Can he escape from the jar if it doesn’t have a top? And should I be concerned about his strange behavior? He keeps crawling onto the pepper and arching his neck up, remaining completely motionless for minutes at a time (drawing enclosed). Is he scared? Sleeping? Thinking?

Pliny the Elder


Quelle surprise, indeed! It is lovely to hear from someone who takes infestation of produce in stride—nay, embraces it. The Pet Lady strongly suggests that you lid the jar posthaste (with some perforations for new air for small Pliny to enjoy, of course); crawlers-around such as caterpillars think nothing of scaling a wall of glass and, in fact, may undertake it for pure sport. Should Pliny have already escaped, watch your step and eschew vacuuming; the Pet Lady is reminded of her girlhood pet Rob, a large black spider who roosted in different parts of her room, complementing the yellow flowered wallpaper nicely, until one day he was found quite flat on the floor in an obscure corner, presumed victim of the large foot of a vacuuming adult.

That said, this kind of found pet can be among the most satisfying, a surprise gift from a bell pepper to you, and the Pet Lady gathers you have been enjoying monitoring Pliny Jr. closely. With regard to Pliny’s strange behavior, from your skillful rendering the Pet Lady may rule out fear (as this is not a cowering position) and sleep (as Pliny only adopts this pose for a few minutes). The Pet Lady guesses that your fuzzy friend is in some state of momentary repose, perhaps enjoying a catnap or a brief period of meditation (as befits he of such a noble namesake). In any event, do not fret: Strange behavior is relative, and what might be odd to us or hurt our necks may be completely quotidian for a caterpillar. Cheers, Plinys!

The Pet Lady

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