Monday, 20 October 2014

Round Three - Day EIGHTY One - Update

Well I don't really know what is going on with the Cinnabar Moth pupa as they have been exactly the same since 10th August 2014 (their Day 11). They may be over wintering or they may all have died, I have no idea, but I'm not giving up on them yet!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Round Four - Day Thirty - Peacock Butterfly No.2 Emerges

I have another gorgeous Peacock Butterfly that emerged in the early hours. Here the butterfly is hanging upside down allowing the blood to flow into his wings.

And here it is during release looking just as stunning as the last!

Sooooo BEAUtiful!!!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Round Four - Day Twenty Eight - First Peacock In It's Full Glory

WOW!!! Look at this beauty. There is a video of his release to come, which was really quite exciting.
What a stunner!!!!

Round Four - Day Twenty Eight - My First Peacock Butterfly has Emerged!

Yesterday we noticed that the first pupa to change was getting very dark and by the time I went to bed the pupa was virtually black. I know that the Peacock's underwings are jet black so I was hoping that was the reason for the strange change.

This morning when I got up my first Peacock butterfly had emerged, of course the whole process happened while I was asleep.

So here he is:
Ta Dah!
 Hopefully lots more photo's to come but he hasn't moved yet. I can't wait to see him with his wings open!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Round Four - Day Seventeen - Second Peacock to a pupa

My second Peacock caterpillar changed to a pupa this afternoon, I managed to capture some video. I have sped up the video x2.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Round Four - Day Fifteen - Pupa Stage for the Peacock No 1

Yesterday evening (17th August) at about 19:30 my first Peacock caterpillar started hanging in the "J" postion, ready to become a pupa.
This was taken the next morning just 3/4 hours before the change began
By 13:00 today he started changing but I just missed the beginning and then because he was moving about so much the camera lost it's focus so here are some screen shots from the video I managed to capture:
Most of the pupa is visible and the old caterpillar skin is still attached

One minute later and the pupa is wriggling to free the skin which is only just on the pupa now 
15 seconds later the pupa is moving violently and the skin is ready to fall off

Friday, 15 August 2014

Round Four - Day Twelve - Sad!

The poor little caterpillar that was about to moult died yesterday afternoon. Something went very wrong with the whole moulting process and he didn't make it.

I still have three healthy caterpillars, two are quite a bit bigger than the third, so we will just have to wait and see!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Round Four - Day Eleven - Weird!

There is one caterpillar that has not had his second moult but has now stopped eating and has made himself a web on the underside of a leaf and seems ready to shed his skin. The only thing is that there have been two caterpillars on top of the same leaf eating it, the result is quite weird...
Hanging in mid air it seems?!
The little guy is now just hanging by the web, there is no leaf above him at all. I hope he moults soon and gets out of there OK.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Round Four - Day Nine - Growing fast!

Just out of curiosity (and I had the caterpillars out to clean the bowl) I thought I would give some scale to how big and fast these fellas are growing. This is the day after the second moult

Allowing for the curve of the leaf he is well over 3.5 cm long.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Round Four - Day Eight - Second Moult

Two caterpillars have moulted and I just missed the actual moulting process, but see how different this caterpillar looks just after shedding his skin

He doesn't even look like a Peacock caterpillar anymore
A short time after:
The colour started to return to his head spines & bum!
Just 10 minutes after I took the first photo all the black colouring had returned completely and I now have four healthy Peacock Butterfly caterpillars and two old black skins sitting on a leaf looking really creepy!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Round Four - Day Seven - A Close Up

All four of the PB caterpillars are eating loads and growing really fast! This photo is fantastic as you can see all their features that can't be seen with the naked eye and that they are still creating a web wherever they go.

Peacock Butterfly Caterpillar - Close Up
 Just look at these spines/spikes close up too, they are fascinating creatures!!

Round Three - Day Eleven - All Pupa now

The Cinnabar Moths are all pupa now and have a new home in an old "Flying Saucers" tub. The only thing that was clear and big enough for them to emerge in. I don't want them in with the Peacock Butterflies as I want to be able to photograph the different stages.

Cinnabar Moth Pupa
I have put sticks in the bottom as they were already in crevices before I moved them and I also placed long sticks up the tub, as when they emerge they will need somewhere to hang for their wings to form properly.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Round Four - Day Five - Definitely Peacock Butterflies!

I now have 4 Peacock Butterfly caterpillars and they are all doing really well. Yesterday they shed a layer of skin, I've never had any caterpillars from young enough to experience this and I wasn't quite sure what had happened. This is what they left behind
Peacock Caterpillars First Moult
Now the caterpillars are even bigger, more beautiful and definitely Peacock Butterflies - Whooppeeee!!! They are jet black, spikey, with small white spots and 4 pairs of yellow feet
Peacock Butterfly Caterpillars

Round Three - Day Nine - The Pupa Stage

The Cinnabar Moths are changing! When I looked about three hours ago I had 1 CM pupa, I just checked now and I have 3 with one still in the process. I can't get any photos as they are all at the bottom of the glass bowl, but once they have all changed then I will take the stone out and photograph them.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Round Three - Day Seven - It's all gone quiet!

The last couple of days have been a really active time for the Cinnabar Moths. Yesterday morning I noticed a distinct reduction in poop and as the day went on at least three of the caterpillars were not eating and getting more & more active just wandering round & round. It's that time where they are hunting for a place to transform. I read on line that they like crevices, so... quick....think! We had some gravel left over from a garden project, so I washed the gravel and put it in the bottom of the nursery.

This morning I only had three wandering (a little dusty) CM caterpillars and now I have none. They have all found a space at the bottom of the bowl beneath the stones. Now we shall just have to wait (and keep checking the bottom of the bowl).

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Round Four - Day One - Peacock Caterpillars?

When searching for ragwort for the Cinnabar Moths we came across this incredible sight just behind our garage:
Hundreds of tiny caterpillars...

...and a lot of poop!
After doing some research we have come to the brilliant conclusion that they must be Peacock Butterfly caterpillars. From the beginning I have always said that I would love to rear some Peacocks as they are stunning butterflies. So here we go, I'm so excited!

I collected (with difficulty) 3 caterpillars to rear from those pictured above and added them to the nursery with some nettles.
The new trio
They are so tiny compared to the others, but are very active and eating loads! I may even go and collect some more as I would really love to capture at least one transforming, so the more the better, as I know how quick and unpredictable the changing process can be!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Round Three - Day Three - FIGHT!!

Anyone would think that these greedy caterpillars didn't have enough to eat. These two decided to have a go at each other over a chewed stem?

Brimstone Butterfly

While up in the forest yesterday we saw lots of butterflies, but this beauty was the only one that sat still long enough for a photo.
Brimstone Butterfly
They are so well camouflaged!!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Round Three - Day Two - Lots of Food

Well today we went to the forest and found lots of ragwort growing on the side of the road! We picked a few plants and I now have ragwort in a vase on my kitchen windowsill.

Yippeeee happy caterpillars!! The gang has plenty of food now, I think probably more than where we first found them.
Loads of grub!

In this close up you can see that they are quite hairy little critters.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Round Three - Day One - Look what we found...

Five of these little critters were all on one tiny plant (Groundsel) on a driveway and I had just weed killed the whole gravelled area!! I only noticed them as I had finished and thought I must of killed them or if not I definitely killed all their food :-(  So I scooped them up and brought them home. Looking on the way to find any similar plants - nothing!!

Once we got home I looked up what they are and what they eat. They are Cinnabar Moths and they eat mainly Ragwort or Groundsel. So the hunt was on that evening to try and get them some grub. We had been out for about half an hour and were just about to give up when we came across one lonely Ragwort plant (yippeee!!). Would you believe that this plant also had a caterpillar on it, so now we have six beautiful Cinnabar Moth caterpillars and a bigger task now of feeding six hungry little mouths.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Round Two - Day Seventeen - Doesn't look good!

It doesn't look good for Billy, the Pupa has gone a strange dark brown/red colour and there is a small silky thread appeared from it. It's only eleven days since he changed, so I will wait for a little while longer before I give up completely.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Round Two - Day Six - Pupa already!!

Well that was fast, I was going to try and take some photos today to see if I could get more of a clue of who Billy is, but he has turned in to pupa already. I think it's because it's so warm, the temperature outside is in the late 20's early 30's and has been for a few days.

It shouldn't be too long now before we know exactly what butterfly Billy will be, especially as the temperature looks to be staying in the mid 20's for the next few days.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Round Two - Day Five - That was fast!!

After 5 days of non-stop eating "Billy" (so named as he has no mates) has more than doubled in size and has now assumed the "J" position ready to become a pupa.

He has changed a lot, he has more colour and I'm still not sure what he will turn into.

No photos as we are so busy!!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Round Two - Day One - It's a Mystery?

Well today was very strange! We have been looking for caterpillars on and off since the first batch, but haven't seen any. Today we saw caterpillars walking across the road!?!

They were mainly small tortoiseshells, but there was another that we didn't recognise, so he came home with us. I have been trying to work out what he is, but I can't. He looks similar to a few caterpillars I have seen online, but it is hard to make a match.

The mystery caterpillar
As I was unable to identify him for sure, I went with nettles for food as it seems to be the main food plant for most butterflies likely to be in our area. There were no objections and he is munching away!

So, we will shall just have to see what happens next.....

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Poplar Hawk Moth

We had a huge great poplar tree in our garden, it is now just a 3 metre high stump, but still with a few leaves of new growth sprouting. In all the 12 years of having a poplar tree we never noticed one of these...

Isn't he a stunner!!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Day Twenty Five - Max the Moth!

I was only saying before I went to bed last night "I wonder when it will be Max's turn?" as I couldn't find anything on line to give me a clue how long he was going to take to transform.

As you've probably already gathered this morning I woke to find Max up and about and looking very different. He is a lot smaller than I thought (17mm head to tip of closed wings), it must have been all the fluff filling the pupa skin! It took him 18 days to transform, he was kept indoors at a constant temperature of about 21 degrees.

Yellow Tail Moth Max

Yellow Tail Moth Max showing off all that fluffiness!

Max was beautifully positioned on the glass for rather a unique view, the only shot in which you can see his yellow tail, just!

From a unique perspective!

Then for the release. He wasn't as keen to go as the butterflies were, but moths tend to sit very still during the day anyway.
Max in the sun before flying off.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Day Twenty One - Max the Pupa

He is not quite as pretty as the butterfly pupa, affectionately known as the blob...

Yellow Tailed Moth Pupa
I have no idea how long he will take to transform, the butterflies metamorphosed much quicker than we thought, so we will just have to wait and see!

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Day Seventeen - Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly Two

It happened again! While I was asleep our second butterfly emerged. I don't think he had been out very long when this photo was taken..

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly Two

How did he fit?
It took a while for him to get ready to open his wings, but look at this, he is perfect!

Once we'd finished taking photos we took him to the garden and set him free, which is a lovely feeling! Video to follow soon.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Day Fifteen - Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly One

Today is the day! Our first butterfly emerged and it is beautiful!!

We missed the process completely but the result is stunning....
Our First Beautiful Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

This was before it had spreads its wings and how I first saw it..
 Upside Down New Butterfly

These are of the skin left behind..

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Day Eight - The Big (Careful) Clean

Unfortunately small tortoiseshell number 3 has not turned into a pupa, I think something must have gone wrong, but he did seem a little smaller than the others and not quite as active. But 3 out of 4 larva to pupa is not bad for our first attempt!!

OK so today is the day! I need to have a good clean out, take out all the nettles and brambles that no-one is attached to and change the water in the tub at the bottom of the bowl that is keeping the plants alive. On go the gloves!!

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Day Seven - Max's Turn

I thought Max was looking a bit agitated yesterday evening, he was wandering around and didn’t really eat very much. So this morning we came down to a very unobliging Max who is now a pupa at the bottom of the bowl under many leaves. Hence the reason there are no photos!!

Once number three small tortoiseshell has changed then a big clean out is necessary!!

Friday, 30 May 2014

Day Six - Pupa Number 2

This morning we came downstairs to find our second caterpillar ready to become a pupa..

Small Tortoiseshell Larva - Hanging from a Twig

Unfortunately we had to go out and by the time we came home he looked like this..

Small Tortoiseshell Pupa 2
He would have been in a perfect position for filming the transition too, but never mind next time......well next time we get some caterpillars as we have just noticed that number 3 is in position now, but he is buried under lots of  leaves. Hopefully Max the moth will be more obliging when it's his turn.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Day Five - Our first Pupa

What a spectacle!!! Last night at 1:00am our first small tortoiseshell larva became a pupa.

We didn't manage to capture the moment but it's only our first and we'll know what to expect next time.

He first started to twitch a lot, then a portion of the body at the head end expanded and became covered in a layer of bright green "skin". The next stage was even more dramatic as he was writhing around his body started pulsating and the rear end of his body was severed and dropped to the ground. Then the green skin started to cover more of him totally changing shape and size. It was incredible to witness!!

This morning the bright green skin has turned into a brown/green colour and seems to have dried and hardened.

Small Tortoiseshell Pupa

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Day Four - The next stage already?

It looks like one of the small tortoiseshell larva is assuming the position for the next stage, I can't be sure though.

Small Tortoiseshell - Hanging from Bramble

After spending 4 days munching on nettles, he is now hanging off a bramble which is not their foodstuff. So now we will see how things progress.

Max - The Yellow Tailed Moth to be..

Here are a couple of shots of Max, through glass unfortunately so not the best quality.

Max a munchin'
The rear end

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Painted Lady Butterfly Video

This video was taken by my OH last summer. It's fantastic to see the incredible detail of the butterfly so close up...

Monday, 26 May 2014

Day Two - Poop!

Amongst all the really useful information on the internet about rearing butterflies and moths is the warning that caterpillars poop a lot. They were not wrong, this is from this morning, after just 16 hours from one caterpillar:
The rest of their home was littered with it too, time for a clean out me thinks. They needed fresh leaves as well, so everybody out! We decided to put the stems of the bramble and nettles in water so they would stay fresher longer. Everybody safely back and refreshed. Still munching, still exploring, still sleeping & of course still pooping!!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Day One - New Home

From all our research we found that most caterpillars enjoy nettles, so armed with gloves, scissors and a jar we went off in search of a caterpillar. After about an hour we returned home with 3 yellow and black striped ones and a black, furry caterpillar with white side stripes and an orange/red stripe down his back. I couldn’t believe we even found one let alone four!!

It didn’t take long to find out that we had found 3 small tortoiseshell butterflies and a yellow tail moth.

So we placed our new guests in their new home with their favourite food and let them settle in.

Our new guests residence

The trio of small tortoiseshell larva

Max the moth wasn't available for the photo shoot, so we'll get him next time.

They all started exploring their new surroundings, found themselves a leaf each and started munching away, then it was time for a rest. They all seem pretty content. We can't stop watching them and the magnifying glass is a must! It's fascinating already.