"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Emperor Moth Caterpillar Update

Only one of the Emperor Moth caterpillars had pupated by the time we went on holiday so the tank of caterpillars came along on holiday with us ( much to husband's disgust!!). About twenty pupated whilst we were away and there are just a few caterpillars left now on the verge of pupating.

The pupation process is fascinating to watch. The caterpillar stops eating and moving around before slowly spinning a cocoon (which looks rather like brown candle-floss) around itself. The caterpillar appears to shrink in size and curl itself up. Gradually over the course of a few days the cocoon hardens and becomes more solid.

These caterpillars started spinning the cocoon last night and this is what they look like this morning.

I've provided twigs propped up to encourage them to pupate away from the floor of the cage but unfortunately most are pupating on the floor of the cage in amongst bramble leaves. They also seem to have the habit of pupating alongside each other. I suspect this caterpillar is about to join them.

Here's one that did get it right - this is the one that first pupated before we went on holiday.

I'll place them all in a predator proof container and leave them in the garage to overwinter. If all goes well the adult moths should emerge next Spring.

I haven't had chance to put out the moth trap since we returned from holiday but I did find this Cabbage Moth in the garage last night (new for year)

I also saw my first Green-veined White in the garden yesterday laying eggs on my sweet peas!

Whilst we were away I treated myself to a rather lovely mug covered not only in butterflies

but moths too :)

I'll try and do another post on the holiday later today covering a visit to Tyneham and Lulworth Cover/Durdle Dor together with a rather special visitor to the cottage garden!


amanda peters said...

Just catching up on your posts, looks like you had a good time in Dorset, and interested to see the Emperor moth pupa, it reminds me of a Prune stone, will the fibres dry out and become smooth or dose it stay "hairy" ?
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks so much. I love the prune description - so apt! I'm not sure if they will become smooth - I suspect not but I'll let you know!

Countryside Tales said...

I love that you took them on holiday - reminded me of us last year. I shall tell M that other people take their caterpillars on hols too and it's not just me :-)

Fascinating to see the pupas. I hadn't appreciated they over-wintered in that state, that's a long time to be a pupa. Aren't they amazing how they all have different life cycles yet are all lepidoptera? I'm more and more fascinated by flutters and moths.
Have never had a cabbage moth here so it was good to see yours. A Copper Underwing flew in through the window as we were off to bed last night and I've woken to find a Snout on the window sill downstairs :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thanks :) B was horrified - he kept saying surely you aren't taking them but as I pointed out the amount they eat they would have died if left!! Luckily there was plenty of bramble near the cottage.

Lepidoptera are just fascinating. I am so glad I finally bought a moth trap - the variety of moths never ceases to amaze me and, as you say, different life cycles for them all is so interesting. I was hoping to take moth trap away too but B bought a much smaller car last year and there was no room :( I haven't had chance to put it out here at home since coming back its been so hectic with football/tennis/birthdays/a new job for D and catching up on 100's of loads of washing! Might try tonight :)