Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Caterpillars in the Pantry

Once again, Robb and I are raising Anise Swallowtail caterpillars in our pantry. The butterflies lay tiny, tiny eggs on our fennel, and once these eggs hatch, I bring the caterpillars inside, to protect them from predation. 

The caterpillars go through a series of life-stages, transforming over and over before their final metamorphosis.  Its a fascinating process to observe, up close.  

This year's group seems hell-bent on attaching themselves to the Worst Possible Places.  The green chrysalis is attached to a piece of screen that used to be part of their tank's lid.  The lid is seated in a track, which means that anything attached to the lid gets squished when the lids opens.  Or, since we're tender-hearted, it means that we cut apart the lids to save the butterflies.  Robb assures me that we can replace the screen without too much trouble.  Yesterday, another caterpillar did the exact same thing, despite all the tempting sticks I've provide.  (You may be able to see a brown chrysalis attached to a lovely safe stick, on the right side of the photo.)

At the moment, we have seven chrysalises pupating.  It will be interesting to see if this batch hatches out right away, or if some of them delay hatching until next spring. We've seen both, and I'm unaware of any pattern for predicting which way it will go.

A Year Ago
I was drowning in work, and didn't write anything on the blog

Two Years Ago

Three Years Ago

Four Years Ago

Five Years Ago

Six Years Ago

Seven Years Ago

Eight Years Ago

Nine Years Ago


Noreen said...

Cool! (And you always have great photos.)

Anonymous said...

I just noticed two second instar larvae on my fennel. I'd like to bring them inside, as you do. How should I prepare? What do I put in their home? Thanks! Elizabeth

Susan Mallen said...

I have found that if they are brown they MAY wait until next year. If the chrysalis is green they most likely will hatch now. I have no data to support this, only memory. I really should try and keep track.

The East coast caterpillars are attaching in bad places also. My almost ready to pupate cage has a zipper on top for human access. Didn't one attach right ON the zipper this year!! It had lots of other choices as this thing is the size of a 10 gallon aquarium, full of green and brown stuff.

I have Io Moth eggs ready to hatch! I found their "mom" on my garage door. I kept her just long enough to get a few eggs. Now not to touch the babies when working in the cage. They have venomous spines ALL over.



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