Even Caterpillars Dislike Change!

It’s great weather for being out in the garden and over the last few weeks I’ve taken a close interest into what’s happening with the four abundant swan plants in our garden. 

To understand the first part of this story, you might want to read instalment one here.

Magic happened again as the three babypillars turned into 11!  I diligently clipped branches off the swan plants each day and brought them inside for the hungry caterpillars, and the more branches I brought in, the more they seemed to multiply!  There must have been eggs on the back of the leaves and just as quickly as I was topping up branches, millipillars, skinnypillars and fatterpillars were munching all over the place.  With two vases full of barren branches, covered with all sizes of caterpillars, caterpillar excrement and green waste from the branches were falling like rain onto the bench.  Time to upscale I thought.  Let’s open a caterpillar sanctuary!  I put up the trestle table to accommodate the rapidly expanding caterpillar refuge. 

Sadly, with the heat of the day and the voracious appetite of the manypillars, I found it difficult to keep up.  Especially since I noticed that the caterpillars were returning to the trees outside.  To cut a branch off without caterpillars was getting tricky, and bringing more caterpillars inside on branches, didn’t solve the food crisis.  A decision had to be made and last night I decided to release and re-home, back onto the plants, about 60 caterpillars.  No point in creating more refugee camps only to run out of food …

Outside, I noticed there were a few fatterpillars so I’m hoping that the predators have given up on the plants.  Or maybe they only like the little ones?  I’ve got my fingers crossed. 

I hear you asking what’s this got to do with business?  Well … two things … change and patience. 

Transferring the manypillars from their safe haven onto a real live swan plant was traumatic for many of them.  As their feelers reached out and sensed the new leaves and branches, they recoiled back to their safe, barren branch, and in some cases brown branch.  How often does the child within us want to keep our situation and circumstances as we are because we think it’s safer?  I was told by a friend that the babypillars develop a taste for the sap of their particular swan plant and therefore can be reluctant to change plants, hmm sounds familiar.  I experienced this last night with most of the smallerpillars who wanted to stay put.  The fatterpillars were more eager to transfer, I’m guessing because they were looking for somewhere to finish off their caterpillar life and turn into a ‘J’.  There’s some parallels with us here.  We often think that the younger generation are quicker to take on new ideas and concepts, however this isn’t always true.  I know of many adults who are eager for change, technological or otherwise, and embrace it with open arms. 

Every caterpillar was transferred to a new leaf or branch, recoiling, then being reintroduced, recoiling and being reintroduced (repeat this multiple times).  If after a few minutes they were still recoiling, I gently lifted the caterpillar from its comfy home and transferred it from my hand onto a branch.  Gosh they’ve got sticky feet!!  It reminded me of the changes that I have been thinking of putting into place and thinking that I’ve got sticky feet in some situations. 

This morning after checking the trees, the foliage has been decimated in places and there are several caterpillars on each branch.  Mission accomplished!  We still have one babypillar inside who was too difficult to transition – he was on a seed pod and wrapped around the chrysalis that formed yesterday morning.  He’s still in sanctuary. 

This whole process took well over an hour and a great deal of patience.  It reminded me of the habits I’m changing this year and where I have sticky feet and feel uncomfortable.  All change, big or small can be clunky at first.  With patience and perseverance we can all become butterflies.  The process reminded me of the conversations I’ve had with clients and course participants about embedding new skills and perspectives.  Sometimes we need to gently work our way through and we’re quite capable of doing this ourselves.  Sometimes, as much as we really want to change and do things differently, a gentle kick from behind can make the world of difference. 

Whenever we choose to do things differently, there’s usually a transition period.  If we want to change from our caterpillar self with sticky feet, to a soaring butterfly there’s a process involved that takes perseverance and time.  Remember, change isn’t always easy, even for caterpillars.