The caterpillar cocooned. It is odd. For people unfamiliar about how this species cocoons, like any other butterfly or moth, previous to turn into a cocoon, it undergoes a small transformation. It stops to eat and looks for a suitable place to stay the rest of the metamorphosis stage.
You can see this not only because it stops to eat, it also spits something like “silk”. Not all caterpillars uses silk to make a silky cocoon. Sphingidae (like the one I own) uses silk just to stick some leaves together. He uses them like umbrella because they cocoon at ground level, in between the fallen leaves, and sometimes burrowing below soft soil.
It takes 2 days for the Sphingidae to turn into a cocoon. In that time, by stopping eating, it is now depending on his deposit of “fat”. It starts to leak something similar to yellow/mustard biles instead of the solid droppings. This liquid is mostly uric acid, and it is a waste that forms in between the new cocoon skin of the caterpillar and his old “sock” skin. This liquid eases him to discard the old skin and shed it by shriveling it until reaching the point of his tail.
After this mild transformation, the cocoon is almost immobile. It can jump, turn, spin and thrash, enough to try to burrow under the soil or to try to return to a most comfy stance if the surrounding leaves were moved away and such. All that rest is the waiting as he starts to metamorphose within the “moth-like” coffin. You can see what will be the future eyes, tongue and wings. Of course, they are just like a mold for them. The final form will be quite different and more mobile.
I can’t prevent to fascinate at this nature marvel. Imagine yourself just eating for 2 or 3 weeks straight until you are 30 times your own original size. Then you shed your skin and go into some kind of hibernation for 1 or a couple of weeks. Then poof, you turn into a very different form from your previous self, and to top it all, an AIRBORNE self! This in almost less than 1 month… It is quite the feat, even for a living being, but that also reminds us that insects are one of the most perfected creatures in the whole planet (and more than one solar system around).
I took several photos of the new cocoon. After waiting for him to shed his skin, I proceeded to CLEAN the mess of the plastic box (because the old solid droppings started to grow mold and fungus and that is dangerous even for the poor cocoon). Used a spoon to scoop the cocoon and pulled all the sticked leaves out and into the trash. I left the cocoon over a table while I was cleaning with water all what I could clean. Then dried it up with a paper serviette, placed 1-2 fingers deep of soft dry ground (discarding the stones in between) and placed the cocoon on it. I “tucked” him with 3 clean leaves from the plant he liked to gnaw on (a grapevine), covering him to prevent light to reach him. It is all what we can do for him right now. The rest is up to him…
And now the photos. Hope he at least turns out into a more beautiful moth than the horrible monster I got many many months ago (it was a tiny green caterpillar from a horrible small black horned moth that looked like bird droppings… I killed it because it is considered a plague). Now that I mention killing bugs, if this new moth turns into one of those related to the plagues, I’ll be pushed to kill it too. Hey, I will miss his beautiful fake eyes. He looked like a pup there…
Yesterday (putting aside that I was contemplating/stalking the shitstorm about ActiBlizzard Real ID), we caught an interesting caterpillar specimen on one of our grapevine plants.
I’m sure it is under the family of the Sphingidae, but I can’t narrow the exact moth for this chubby cutie (11 cm long!). Deciding to see what kind of moth might come out from it, we kept it inside a Ferrero Rocher box, the same boxes I use to keep insects and try to identify them. I sent a “What’s that bug” request to our dear Bug Man to see if they can discern the species before it becomes the adult.
Photos about him/her:
Creepy bug is creepy. Hope the adult isn’t as creepy as its young.