Leaf-eaters and their Foes
Characters: Benjy Bear, Leafcutter Caterpillar on leaf, Chickadee, Gertie Grass, Grady Grasshopper, Freddie Fox
Benjy Bear Boy, my belly’s so full of berries, I need a nap. I’ll just lie down in the shade of this maple tree. (leaf enters) Why, look at that leaf. I wonder why it has those big holes in it?
Leafcutter They don’t call me a leafcutter for nothing!
Bear A leafcutter? You look like a caterpillar.
Leafcutter Yup, a leafcutter caterpillar. I’ll turn into a moth someday, if I eat enough.
Bear I bet you ate that big hole in the leaf!
Leafcutter Nope, I cut out that piece of leaf for a shelter. See? (turn leaf over to show case) I sew two leaf pieces together with silk and hide inside.
Bear Just like a turtle’s shell! What are you hiding from?
Leafcutter From little birds with sharp bills – like that chickadee – yikes! (exits)
Chickadee I thought I saw a caterpillar – on that leaf. Weren’t you just talking to someone?
Bear Me? Talking to a leaf? I don’t think so.
Chickadee Hmm. This seems like a cover-up operation to me. Well, I’ve got a hungry family to feed. No time to poke my beak into this matter right now. (exits)
Bear All clear, caterpillar. (caterpillar re-enters) I guess your leaf disguise works well. So birds eat caterpillars, but I still don’t know what you eat.
Leafcutter I’m a leaf-cutter and a leaf-eater. I nibble on the leaf just outside my shelter.
Bear Oh, now I can see where you’ve been eating – that ring of tiny holes in the leaf. Seems to me you’ve got everything you need up there.
Leafcutter Yup. This leaf’s my habitat.
Bear Habitat? What’s that?
Leafcutter It’s where something lives. If I were a frog, where would I live?
Bear In a pond?
Leafcutter Right. Because that’s where a frog can find food, water, shelter, and a place to have young. But I’m a leafcutter caterpillar, so this tree is my habitat.
Bear You get food, water, and shelter right from that leaf?!
Leafcutter Yup, I do. But now I’m ready to become a moth, so I will drop to the ground and turn into a maple leafcutter pupa. So long! (exits)
Bear So long, little fellow. Good luck! Now for that nap! (grass enters) Ah-choo! Oh hi, Gertie Grass. I think you’re giving me hay fever.
Gertie Grass Probably! I’m scattering pollen today (waves around). It’s one of my jobs in this field.
Bear You and all the other grasses. This field must be your habitat.
Grass Yes, it is. It has everything a plant needs – sunshine, water, good soil. I love it here. I may be just one grass, but I’m part of something much bigger. I’m a part of the ecosystem in this field.
Bear Ecosystem? What’s that, Gertie?
Grass It’s what’s happening here – sun shining, plants and animals growing, everything turning into soil. An ecosystem means all the living and nonliving things in a place and all the ways they’re connected. We’re all working together to make the field a field!
Bear You don’t look like you’re working.
Grass Sure I am. I’m catching sunlight and turning it into leaves.
Bear Turning sunlight into leaves? Sounds like magic! We bears can’t do that!
Grass That’s where we’re different. I’m a producer – I make food. And you’re a consumer – you eat food!
Bear That’s for sure! I love to eat!
Grass You’re not alone. There are lots of consumers around here – herbivores like deer and mice that eat plants. And carnivores – the meat-eaters that like to eat them.
Bear And omnivores like us bears that like to eat everything.
Grass That’s right, Benjy. We’re all a part of the ecosystem. Uh oh, speaking of herbivores, here comes a hungry leaf-eater now! (exits)
Bear Huh? I don’t see any caterpillars. (grasshopper enters) Oh hi, Grady Grasshopper – are you a leaf-eater too?
Grasshopper Sure – I love leaves.
Bear Looks like you chewed all around the edges of that leaf.
Grasshopper Yes, I’m a bit on edge today.
I’m worried about birds or foxes…hey, you don’t eat grasshoppers, do you?
Bear Don’t worry. I just filled up on berries.
Grasshopper Good thing. I don’t really want to be food for a meat-eater. Even though it’s one of our jobs in the ecosystem. I just don’t like to think about it.
Bear Guess I can’t blame you for that. What other jobs do you have?
Grasshopper Why, we grasshoppers eat a lot of leaves and we turn them into, well, fertilizer, if you know what I mean, and that helps the grass to grow. More grass to feed more grasshoppers!
Bear You’re a pretty important part of this field, aren’t you?
Grasshopper Well I should hop so! Goodbye, Benjy! (exits)
Bear So long, Grady. And now for that nap… (fox enters, jumping up and down). Uh, what’s up with you, Freddie Fox?
Freddie Fox (embarrassed) Oh, uh, nothing. Just doing my exercises, that’s all.
Bear Were you trying to catch the grasshopper?
Fox Me? Oh, no. Well, maybe. Well, what if I was? I’m a hungry fox.
Bear Everybody’s gotta eat.
Fox Right. Everybody needs energy to live. Plants get energy from the sun and turn it into leaves, and grasshoppers get energy from eating plants.
Bear And foxes get energy from eating grasshoppers?
Fox If we can catch ’em. Or tasty voles or mice or rabbits. It’s just one of our jobs in the ecosystem – eating leaf-eaters. Mm-mm, there goes one now! I’m off to work! See you later, Benjy! (exits)
Bear Well, gee. I guess I’d better get to work, too. And for a bear, that means eating berries! Pretty good work if you can get it!