Un-natural histories

This morning* I saw a Goth Caterpillar! Not your slightly-penniless, torn-stockings-and-safteypins sort of goth, no, this was Haute Couture Goth. Posh Goth. Frankly, it’s probably far too upmarket and real goth catterpillars will not speak to it.

To start with it was covered in fine black velvet, with black leather belts around its many, many midriffs. The black velvet appeared to be studded with the tiniest white fairy-pearls all over, but the spikes were the most spectacular thing: It had spikes, yes, but the spikes had spikes on!

This is not my caterpillar as I didn’t have a camera, but one of its cousins, many thanks to moonraker2012:

Peacock Butterfly Caterpillar

It’s almost Tudor: a swashbuckling caterpillar in its pearls, black velvet and spikes. If Queen Elizabeth the First had liked caterpillars as a child, this would have been her favourite!

So, where am I going with this? Well, in the time it took me to run home (no, I wasn’t that desperate, I was in fact out for a run), I had begun mentally to re-write the future of this little fellow. What, if it was, say, a fairy caterpillar? What kind of fairy would it grow into?

Fairies don’t come from caterpillars you say? Are you sure? This is a very old painting of mine, but I have always had a theory that fairies hatch from chrysalises, and, that being the case, there must also be fairy caterpillars…


It’s the second time in a fortnight that I have googled interesting caterpillars to find out what they will grow into. My goth one will apparently grow into a Peacock butterfly, which is actually a pretty flashy creature, though it clearly grows up and leaves its childhood weirdness behind. The other one was this individual:

caterpillar of mullein moth
caterpillar of mullein moth

Disappointingly, this funky chap is destined to turn into a rather boring brown moth. Sometimes nature needs to be ‘corrected’ if only in my imagination.

So there, the start of an idea, perhaps. Next time I am asked the perennially tedious question ‘so, where do you get your inspiration from’, I shall answer ‘caterpillars’, and smile at them….

Mind you, what this one grows into could keep a person awake at nights:

monster tufty caterpillar!
unknown monster tufty caterpillar!

* Postscript: to be perfectly correct it was not in fact this morning that I saw the caterpillar, it was last week or so. I wrote this but did not get round to posting it as I had something or other else to say. However, since I am currently hard at work on the third calendar picture and short on time, this seemed a good time to post it.


  1. Niall Young

    I love your hatching fairies!…funnily enough I featured the catterpillars of the Peacock Butterfly in my last artwork….I was struck by the fact that their favourite food is the common Stinging Nettle…I mused on the fact that artists are often like these little creatures living on or near pain (the stings of the nettle) but as a result bring forth a product which is often as beautiful as the adult butterfy.

    1. Ah, I don’t usually think of myself as living in or near pain… but given the issues I am having with the current picture, I begin to see your point!

  2. The Goth caterpillar reminded me of a string of blackberries. I wanted to eat it.

    1. I was going to say that’s weird, but now I scroll back to look at it, I know exactly what you mean!

  3. So once the calendar is finished, can we look forward to a sketch or painting of goth caterpillars hanging around in the town centre looking soooo depressed?

    1. Ha Ha! I like it! 😀

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