Thursday, 5 June 2014

Caterpillar crisis (updated with photos)

Our three Deaths Head Hawk Moth caterpillars have started to pupate. You know they're ready because they start wandering around the bottom of the cage, their bodies turn progressively darker until they look orangey brown and they start to lose a lot of fluid.

When the first caterpillar started wandering, we put him in a shoe box with lots of kitchen roll and left him alone. They wander around in the box for a couple of days and eventually make the kitchen roll into a slightly soggy nest that they can settle in and pupate. In the wild they would wander off and find some soil to burrow into, so they are mimicking this with the paper.

A couple of days later the second caterpillar started to wander, so I opened the shoe box to check on the first caterpillar and put the second one in. To my horror the first caterpillar was missing. I can only assume he'd managed to push the lid of the shoe box up and crawl out. They are big, strong caterpillars, but I really didn't think he would be able to do that. Anyway, I have hunted high and low (well mostly low to be fair, as I assume he's trying to bury himself somewhere) but with no luck. One of our caterpillars is officially missing! The back door has been open a lot recently, but I just can't imagine he would have made it outside without one of us noticing. I can only hope he's found somewhere safe indoors to pupate and we will see him when he emerges in a few weeks.

The other two are now safely under lock and key and have made their paper nests and settled down to pupate. Only pictures from outside their boxes at the moment, as I don't want to disturb them at what must be a very delicate stage of their lifecycle.

Each caterpillar is safely tucked up in a secure box
From under the box - you can see the paper nest and the caterpillar is
shrinking and starting to look more like the shape of a chrysalis

No comments:

Post a Comment