I now have another 15 babies indoors, now these I do not plan to keep all the way through to butterfly, but as soon as they are large enough to handle I shall release some of them outside and keep just a few indoors to raise again. The reason I collected so many is that I found many tiny caterpillars on the lower down, dying yellow fronds of the fennel and they were too small to transfer further up the plant. Also, there seems to be some strange disease of dill this year, some plants are healthy and others have some strange thing where the leaves turn red and then the plant flops. So I've been saving tiny caterpillars from these plants too.
|Little caterpillar about Instar 3 on dill in my veg patch.|
Saw this really tatty butterfly the other day - wondering whether it is the same tatty one I posted before, but now she's lost nearly all of her hind wings and some of the fore wings too which are practically see through. Yet she still laid an egg!
|Swallowtail (Papilio machaon).|
She wasn't going to survive much longer by the looks of things.
I got to witness a moult all the way through the process this time. I only took one photo because it was late and you can see in it the darkened head capsule which looks like it has already dislodged. What was interesting to watch was the amount of wriggling, squeezing and pushing that went on for about half an hour before the moult. I didn't photograph it because it was about 11pm, and we were watching something on the TV, so I took the bowl into the living room with me plus magnifying glass and half watched telly and half watched my caterpillar!
|Just before a moult into the final instar.|
The main reason for this Part 9 is because I also witnessed a pupation. I'd seen and photographed one two years ago, but this time was a little different and needed a bit of human intervention.....
|I noticed this was about to happen because it suddenly started to move and wiggle.|
|And then the skin popped open and the chrysalis started to appear.|
|But note the cradle/cremaster which is holding it up - |
it's not where it is supposed to be!
|Oops! Yes it fell out!|
|This is the kitchen paper lining the box and I was having kittens |
wondering if it could still manage to pupate properly.
|I needn't have worried as it didn't seem to have any problems.|
|Nearly got rid of that skin....|
|Just one more wriggle and squeeze.....|
|And finally free. Usually when hanging, they flick this skin off. I gave it a helping hand.|
Now here I learned something new, having never (obviously) handled a newly formed chrysalis I had no idea they would be so soft and squidgy! I then had to try to get it back into its cradle! That was easier said than done but I (with help from my OH) managed to get the cradle over several of those ridges, but because it had chosen to pupate on the plastic mesh lid of the box it was really hard and I had to keep checking I was putting it back the right side up! It's now dangling down a little too far as I couldn't get it into the correct position, and is a bit wobbly when I move the box, so I'm going to get some thread and tie it up so it's in a better position for eclosing.
And the reason I know it doesn't want to be dangling down...... because there will be a Final Chapter after all...... as I have finally witnessed an eclosion and know what happens when the butterfly emerges!
You'll have to wait a bit because I've got some video footage that needs editing, not by me as I don't have suitable software, but with help from my dear OH who is used to editing videos. :-)