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.