Friday, November 16, 2012

Dr. Doolittle Gets a Little Red in the Face

You know, I have got to learn to trust my instincts. Us animal people are sensitive folk, and when we sense something, it should never be ignored.  All week I'd been getting the feeling that someone has been watching me, but when I looked around, I never saw anyone. So, the other morning I was having a chat with Lostine about her nervousness regarding taking walks around the neighborhood, and I was teasing Bombay for being constipated and not being able to take a dump in the wagon.  After all, he is a toilet trained horse.

Then I started hassling bunnies, calling out to them and saying, “I see you!” which is always hilarious, because they freeze and think you can't see them if they aren't moving.

Eventually, the horses went on alert and the dogs began barking next door, so I sat very still and waited for a coyote to come up out of the arroyo, so I could jump out at it and chase it off.  I knew he was close when the bunnies scattered to their hiding spots.  Sure enough, here came the unsuspecting coyote sniffing the ground to follow a bunny scent.  I jumped up and it hauled butt off into the brush.  I think I yelled something out after it like, "Off with yer head, you wily coyote!"

Then I took the dogs outside to do their business and was chatting it up with them when I found some huge caterpillars on the leaves of the fruit tree on the side of the house.  Last weekend my husband was looking at this fruit tree and saw that a bunch of leaves had been eaten.  Then he found what looked like bird poop on the leaves and couldn't understand how so many birds could poop just perfectly in the middle of each leaf.  Then it hit him that they were caterpillars.

I tried petting one of them and this long, forked orange tongue came out and tried to touch me like a snake. I freaked out at first, and then started laughing. This was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen. The caterpillars I grew up with had no self-defense skill. With this being the desert, I just assumed they were poisonous and I shouldn't try to put one in my hand.

I ran in the house, put my macro lens on my camera and began taking pictures, talking out loud expressing my amazement over these caterpillars when suddenly I heard a man's voice behind me. I whipped around and didn't see anyone, but the voice was so close I didn't know how I could miss him. I went back to taking pictures and heard the man's voice again, followed by a woman's voice. I whipped around and there was this man and woman wandering around in my neighbor's back yard, which was just about 50 feet away from me.

This particular neighbor is so quiet and unobtrusive that I still haven't met him. My husband has met him, but the man works so many hours that he's rarely home. Obviously, his parents came to visit, and I suspect they've been there all week while he's been at the office. I kept hearing noises coming from that house, but my neighbor's truck wasn't in his driveway and there were no other vehicles, so I thought the noises had to be coming from elsewhere in the neighborhood.

They've probably been sitting on his porch, which is surrounded by black screen, so that they can see out but no one can see in, and they've probably been having a grand old time watching the crazy lady next door talk to her animals. I guess when I started talking to a tree, that was just way too interesting and over the top, and they had to come out to get a closer look.  Geez.  Sometimes I feel like a caterpillar under a macro lens.


Cindy Durham said...

Wow, in all my years in "location x", I have never seen one of those, although I hear from my daughter in law that something has been eating all the fruit on our trees there. I will have to tell her to look for these.

Funny story!

Reddunappy said...

Weird caterpillar!! (that is a very strange word to spell LOL)

Marissa said...

It cracked me up when you said you were the crazy lady talking to the animals and her trees!

Cut-N-Jump said...

Trees and other plants as well- also benifit from talking to them. Tell them how beautiful they are, how you appreciate their foliage and the bearing of their fruits. It's amazing what happens. They also love music too. Brings a whole new perspective of 'being in touch with nature'.

What kind of caterpillar is that? I have never seen one like that. Not even in books. That orange tongue is almost just freaky too.

Dreaming said...

What a fun post! Go ahead, talk to those animals. I do it all the time and I need to be able to point to someone else to show folks that it's 'normal' behavior!!
We had a caterpillar that looked quite similar to the one you found, Isn't it amazing how they have adapted.... to look like bird poop, and then to scare the crap out of anything that decides it might just like to nibble on bird poop! Did you find out what it is?

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I found a site with similar pictures and it says, "Both Arizona Purple and Weidemeyer's Admiral third instar caterpillars are very similar to each other as they mimic bird lime for protection." I don't know if they are poisonous.

Stacey said...

LOL in New Mexico when I'd chase after coyotes I'd yell almost the same thing "Get out of here Wiley Coyote!!" I chased them on foot when they'd come in close to try to drink out of the horses' water or I'd have Klein chase after them with me yelling at them when I was out riding and saw them.

WEIRD caterpillar. I've seen some big green ones with big fake eyes. Creepy looking things.

fernvalley01 said...

Weird little buggers! Oh well if they think you are crazy ,send 'em here we do crazy right! The psychotic jelly bean yelling at the bull would shake them up

Paint Girl said...

Yep. Weird looking caterpillar and I have never seen anything like it before! And that creepy snake tongue! I would have taken off running and screaming the other direction so fast the neighbors would definitely think I was crazy!!
But even though it is a very creepy caterpillar... awesome pictures!!

ABScharstein said...

I argue with my cat. Talking to a caterpillar, or out loud about the caterpillar, is far from strange to me. I think animals take solace in our voices, whether they understand anything we say or not.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Wow! Amazing caterpillar. I've never seen anything like that in my life, but I appreciate you sharing your cool photos with us. It's incredible how poop-like it looks, too! And that tongue thing is just freaky!
I wonder if you should be removing them so they don't damage your tree?
What kind of fruit tree is that? Lemon? Orange?
How awesome to be able to grow a citrus tree in your yard outside!

My family in California has several lemon trees and an avocado tree in their backyard and they mostly just let the fruit fall on the ground, just like all the other neighbors do! That is such a travesty to me!


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I found what I think they must be: Orange dog caterpillars!


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

This search has been very educating and weird! Arizona has some of the oddest creatures. lol!

I loved this blog post about them, and especially all the comments afterwards. lol!


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lisa - That is exactly it. The butterfly in the first blog is one of the types of butterflies we have landing on our Lantana. I forgot that I did smell something gross when they stuck out their tongues, but since my dogs poop under that tree, I wasn't sure where exactly the smell was coming from. I don't know yet if it is a lemon or orange tree. It's very small and we are waiting for the fruit to ripen to find out.

achieve1dream said...

That is a little creepy that they could be sitting on the darkened porch being really quiet and you would never know they were there. :( I wish people would mind their own business. I never stare at or watch my neighbors. I have one neighbor who comes over to talk if he sees us out and that doesn't bother me. My other neighbor watches me when I'm in the pasture with my horses, but it doesn't bother me too much because she lets me know any time she sees someone on the property who isn't supposed to be there. Also, I know she's just fascinated and interested in the things I do with Chrome because she doesn't know a lot about horses and she thinks he's pretty. :) Oh and she's crazier than I am so I don't worry too much about that hahaha!

Mikey said...

Those are interesting. I've never seen them up this way on our fruit trees, but I'll be looking.
I can say, don't pet a caterpillar that looks like a fuzzy lil guinea pig. Those are poisonous for sure.
One thing I'll say about the desert, you can be way out there, think you're all alone. Don't count on it. 9 times out of 10 someone is watching you, I swear. From my own personal experience. I've stumbled upon people where I never thought there would be anyone.