Caterpillar Pupates — on Film!

First, here’s the caterpillar from a couple of days ago (let’s call him “Caterpillar 1”). He was able to pupate successfully, in spite of my concerns (I guess these creatures know their business better than I do …):

Yesterday, one of the other caterpillars (let’s call him “Caterpillar 2”) began what I am calling the diaspora, smartly heading for the stucco fence, and having fewer problems navigating the rough stucco than his brother:

He settled in under the brick overhang at the top of the fence. Here he is after he attached himself:

I actually witnessed him forming the “J” after a couple of hours. The next three pictures were taken in quick succession as he let go, first with his middle feet, and then with his head, and dropped down suddenly:

He seemed kind of surprised and was waving his head around a bit.

He twisted around a bit and then settled in to a more compact “J” form:

Here’s the broader view of where he ended up:

That was yesterday. Today he pupated, and I caught it with my Galaxy Tab video camera … I wish I had a better video camera to get closer, but this is still pretty cool!

It starts with the process of shedding his skin by moving it up toward his tail (from which he is hanging) and ultimately flipping it off. At one point the skin seems to divide in two, and the shiny green chrysalis appears.

During and right after the pupation, you can still see his “caterpillar-ness” in the length and skinniness of the chrysalis, and its segmentation. Over the next couple of hours the chrysalis is considerably shortened and starts to develop the characteristic hard sheen.

Right after the pupation, about 1 PM.

About 20 minutes later.

A couple of hours later.

Congratulations, Caterpillar 2! Within a couple of weeks, we should have a butterfly … I’m going to try to get that on video as well!




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2 Responses to “Caterpillar Pupates — on Film!”

  1. kathleen Says:

    Wow, Cynthia! The video was quite an eye-opener! What a dance that little caterpillar does! I am glad that you were able to capture the entire process.
    I have pruned milkweed plants, and they come back strong. I do leave the pruned stems close to the main plant for a few days, just in case there may be an egg or young caterpillar hidden there.

  2. Newsflash: Caterpillars are not as Smart as Humans | Cynthia's Native Garden Says:

    […] (I captured this process on film last year; see this post: […]

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