• Erika Lee Kline

Calvin The Cutworm Caterpillar: A Short Story


1.Cutworm caterpillar. 2. Agrotis segetum, turnip moth adult.

Here's the background. Do you see that succulent sticker on my wall? Look at the picture again...Cute right? One of my coworkers gifted it to me. Such a simple sticker, but it literally boosted my mood. The very next week I found this LIVE succulent arrangement sitting on top my desk. It was a gift from a family I work with at Children's Hospital LA. A very special family. They have two young daughters with Type 1 Diabetes. Isn't it incredible how much people can tug at your heart strings and imprint themselves forever? I am so fortunate this family has allowed me to assist them in the difficult and challenging journey of living with Diabetes. They are my heros!

Little did I know, hiding inside my mini succulent garden, was a little surprise. See the picture below. Don't let this alien-like creature trick you into thinking he has a brain the size of a short-grained rice morsel. He's a uber intelligent caterpillar that spent a few weeks being my 'work pet'. He didn't reveal himself for the first 2 days after I got the plant, but then Boom! There he was, this soft brown 'harmless' Cutworm Caterpillar. Meet Calvin. You wanna know why they call Calvin a 'Cutworm'? Just look at the picture again.

Calvin is known as a crop pest! His name, 'cutworm' describes the damage caused this simple creature. He 'cuts' through the stems of plants. I wish I could post a videos of Calvin eating my plants little branches, but the video feature would cost me another $200 a year. No thank you! If you need some footage let me know and I'll send it to you. Calvin is known as a 'true' caterpillar. He has 3 pairs of legs, and 5 pairs of prolegs. Wow, those LEGS!!!

Calvin's caterpillar breed has been known to work their way along a row of plants, leaving a trail of devastation. After he finished with one side he started chomping on the other side. He was an active little guy!

After he was finished with eating the tastiest parts of the succulents he was acting very strange. It's like he was on the hunt for more food. Obviously he was a very Picky Pest. Calvin started throwing himself onto my desk. He did it 5 times in one day. I was worried about leaving him at night. I was scared he wouldn't be there the next day. I knew it was time to think about freeing Calvin. Believe it or not, his daily adventures had brought me a nice distraction from the work pressures I've have been experiencing, chronically now. I didn't want to say goodbye to my new work pet. Sending him off to nature meant he could be free to eat wild plants and get some 'fresh' air.

Last Thursday, the last week of July, I decided it was time to say goodbye to Calvin. We finally built trust with one another, but now we were about to part ways. His work was done.It was the right thing to do, but bittersweet. It was a bit of a going away celebration. I took lots of pictures and shot videos. Gave Calvin a little shoot of his own. Put him in a Dixie cup on Thursday night after work and brought him to the Garden. I coached him. I gave him words of encouragement like: 'Calvin, you're free now', 'You're about to experience freedom', 'Calvin, you can do this'. 'Crawl out of the cup'. 'Eat all the plants in sight, enjoy'. By the looks of the picture below, It looks like he was ready to dive off the cup doesn't it? Don't let him fool you, he crawled right back inside. Actually I let him crawl all over my hand before I placed him on the ground. All those little legs tickled me. I gave him a few encouraging pets along his back and there he went, moving along on his next adventure of laying eggs, turning into a huge moth and eating everything in sight. Sounds like some of you!!

May your adventure be your own. Embrace obstacles if you are able, learn and grow throughout life! Challenge yourself to think beyond your simple minds. Even this tiny-brained caterpillar made his own adventure! Goodbye for now, Calvin.

Stay beautiful, unique and inspired

--Erika Lee Kline lives in beautiful Pasadena, California. She is fitness minded & enjoys hiking, biking, paddleboarding and wall climbing. She is a fully embodied Empath, a human rights advocate, ballroom/Latin dancer, a student of human behavior and an MI Practitioner. She is a Pediatric Diabetes Nurse working in Los Angeles at a Children's Hospital. You can find her on Clubhouse, TikTok & Instagram.

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