Tuesday, 14 August 2018

A sneak peek at my Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillar...

I will post the full story soon, but here is a sneak peek at this stunning creature.

The caterpillar is producing silk from glands near its mouth and weaving it across the glass where it wants to walk. You can see its tiny feet gripping on to the webbing...

Fascinating stuff!!

I taken have lots of photos and video of this gorgeous caterpillar over the past week or so and I will be posting them soon.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Swallowtail - Day 4

Look how she has grown and changed already! She is loving the fennel flowers.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Swallowtail - Day 3

The caterpillarium is a little full at the moment with all the peacock caterpillars I rescued so I had to think where "she" (I've decided!) could live.

I found a huge glass jar and placed her fennel inside, then I unpicked an organza jewelry bag and placed that over the neck of the jar, securing it with an elastic band. Easy to clean too!!

Monday, 6 August 2018

Swallowtail caterpillar - I can't believe it !!!!!!

I have been wanting to find a swallowtail caterpillar since I first started rearing butterflies. I have never seen a swallowtail butterfly, but knew they existed in the area. So, very unlikely, but possible, was my thinking!. I've been growing fennel just in case I ever found any as I know it is a favourite food.

Back story to the following post:

I am lucky enough now to be the proud owner of a fantastic camera. I have always enjoyed taking photos and movie, but with a doggie in tow for the last (nearly) 8 years I could never have anything too precious as I was always being pulled from pillar to post (and loved it!). Now unfortunately I don't have my gorgeous hound anymore, so there has been a change of priority and I treated myself!!

So a soon after my new purchase we decided to go to a local gardens and it was there I spotted a tiny, baby caterpillar. I had no idea it was there when I took this photo:

Circled in red 
Even when I decided to "rescue" it I wasn't sure what it was, I'd never seen a swallowtail caterpillar in it's 4th instar before, only ever fully grown ones!  I knew I had my fennel in the garden, so was fairly sure whatever it was it would survive! (I know the plant it's on isn't fennel, but it is the same family.)

The poor creature traveled home in a make shift carry case, with food of course:

Look how tiny it is, only about a centimeter!

I looked at so many caterpillar photos and butterfly websites that evening that by the time I went to bed I was convinced I had a swallowtail and was completely blown away!!

Day 10: Webbed Feet...

I couldn't believe what showed up inside the caterpillarium under the photography lights! So much webbing, everywhere! The caterpillars use it as a kind of transport system, a video will follow soon, but this photo of cute feet will have to do for now...

Just incredible, you cannot see any of this in normal daylight!

Sunday, 5 August 2018

They are all Peacock Caterpillars

The two nests I found down the road last Saturday are both Peacocks! They are huge now..

Day 9: More Molting...

There is quite a bit of molting going on today. They stop eating and become very still in their webbing. Then, as you can see in the very right centre of the photo, they leave their old skins stuck in the fine thread.
Hiding today!

Friday, 3 August 2018

Day 7: I've tried to count how many...

... it's not an easy job!! I reckon there could be as many as 50, but they just keep moving!

These are just some of them
They are getting bigger all the time and molting too. I clean them out and give them fresh nettles every day. Here is photo of some the remnants they leave behind after a molt, plus all the webbing they use to secure themselves during the process, oh yeah and all the poop!!

It's quite fascinating (and disgusting)!

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Day 1: Rescued caterpillars...

..are all safe! I've had to put them in a jar, as these fellas are so tiny I think they could escape from the caterpillarium. I unpicked an organza bag to use as a lid as they would easily fit through the netting I usually use.

They are so tiny! You just make them out behind the glass.
 (As always, click the photo for full size version)

Settling in their new home

I can't believe what happened today...

I have not searched for caterpillars at all this year, up until today! I had this overwhelming urge this afternoon to go and check the nettles behind our garage. To my complete astonishment I found these Peacock babies:
There are at least 3 times this amount again underneath the leaf
I then found another small nest just a few plants along. I know that these nettles will soon be cut down by the neighbour so I have moved them in with us.

I then walked up the road opposite never expecting to find anymore, that would just be greedy!

Nevertheless a few meters along the road I found this nest :
I've never seen so many caterpillars in one place!
About a meter from that nest I found another:

I'm not sure if these ones are Peacocks or Small Tortoiseshells, I will be keeping a close eye on them over the coming weeks and of course be updating on the progress of the rescued caterpillars.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

The wait is over... (see previous post)

Yesterday afternoon I decided to see if the pot of soil that I had been storing for the past 8 months had any signs of life.

I carefully moved the dry leaves from the top and gently moved the very dry soil. A clump came away from the rest and inside this ball was a pupa lying in a space about 3 times its size.

As I moved the soil I saw that the pupa wriggle, I'd obviously disturbed the little "fella". I read somewhere that emerging moths require moisture so I sprayed the pot with water.

I checked on the pot first thing this morning, no signs of life. An hour later there was moth clinging to the side of the pot.

We'd never seen this species before and it took a while before we discovered it is a Clearwing Hummingbird Hawk Moth.

He spent some time in the same position just "vibrating" his wings

Photo is a snapshot from a video (to come soon!)
Then came time for release on this beautiful sunny day. With all the activity in the caterpillarium I thought once I opened the side it would be straight off, but no...

Second side off, still no movement, so I put in my hand and it climbed right on and sat for sometime, just preparing for take off. I always say this, I know, but I never imagined that he would climb on my hand . I have some Aquilegia flowers in the garden and thought that this would be a good place for it, then in a flash off it went.