The Very Hungry Caterpillar eats a tremendous amount of food in this book in a one week period.
Almost as much as many of us ate during Thanksgiving dinner.
There are certain details about the natural world that I get fixated upon. The difference between a cocoon and a chrysalis is an example. Moths come out of cocoons. Butterflies come out of chrysalides. My guess is that Eric Carle wanted to show a beautiful butterfly at the end of the book and found the word cocoon easier for young children to understand. Thanks for letting me set the record straight, in case you grew up with this book and associate butterflies with cocoons. 🙂
Okay, I’ll admit I had caterpillars on my mind during Thanksgiving for another reason. This year the number of winter moths in the area seems to have exploded. They are an invasive species. When I was raking oak leaves this fall, I noticed that all the oak leaves in my front yard had holes in them – as if many Very Hungry Caterpillars had visited me. Then on Thanksgiving night, there were thousands of white moths at the windows – attracted to the light. Yikes! None of this was appropriate to mention during a toddler storytime, but now you know the story behind the story.
Check out the Library of Congress’ site for more information about butterflies and moths:
UMass Extension has some detailed explanations of the life cycles of the winter moth and actions you can take (or not)Respond to a winter moth survey to give an indication of the extent and reach of the problem.