I REMEMBER MAKING A BUG COLLECTION in biology class during my Junior year. It was a curriculum requirement that I absolutely enjoyed, and that fact alone was a nice surprise for me.
Mrs. Couch was my biology teacher. She rigorously championed and directed this endeavor as if it were God’s plan for her, and she absolutely loved the “critters,” that allowed her to teach entomological classification. In my long-ago memory, I have her wearing a field commander’s metal helmet, with binoculars, in pursuit of some rare butterfly during her act of teaching. She was a farm girl whose enthusiasm was inspiring, and she was tough as nails.
I needed that.
Collecting the bugs was more of an adventure than a mundane academic exercise, set in the out-of-doors that combined science and hobby-crafting. It was like a grade school field trip with no supervision. I would drive country roads in my mom’s dark blue Grand Prix with my classmates holding a handmade white hooped net brushing the grasses on the side of the road capturing all kinds of critters.
I loved the cotton and ether-filled bottles where they would be deposited. And pins and paper tags, and the reference books, all were organized at my home desk up in my room. The purchase of the Styrofoam board was the finishing touch to the project, visual proof of the hours on assignment.
Here I am today with my I-phone taking photos of a gaggle of caterpillars going through metamorphosis on their favorite milkweed. I forgot that they called these distinct stages instar. Can you imagine that in a few short days these fuzzy critters will be Monarch butterflies?
By the way, I don’t really think a group of caterpillars are called a gaggle.
I must google that to check.