The very hungry caterpillar... Summer 2016

Maria got five Painted Lady caterpillars as a present. We learned a lot about their lifecycle, and improved macro photography skills.

Five caterpilars came by post in a small plastic pot with some solid media at the bottom. The caterpillars were quite small, only an inch or so in length.

They were eating and eating, as in the famous book about The Very Hungry Caterpillar. They got quite big and fat in a few days.

The caterpillars are so big now that they no longer fit in the viewfinder!

One can notice small claws on their feet.

The view from underneath.

In ten days the caterpillars finished their food, attached themselves to the lid of the pot and hanged upside down in a J-shape.

We missed the moment when they transformed into chrysalises.

Just before a caterpillar transforms into a chrysalis, it sheds its skin for the last time. This particular one still had the skin attached. May be this is why it could not glue itself properly to the lid and eventualy dropped down to the bottom.

A week later we had five butterflies in the habitat! We decorated the habitat with some flowers and added some nettle, just in case they would lay eggs.

Lunch in a "5-star hotel".

In about three days we noticed very small light green eggs on the nettle. To our surprise, they laid eggs not only on the nettle, but also on the flowers and the walls of the habitat. Looks like they didn't care what the caterpillars were going to eat!

It is time to say goodbye and let the butterflies out into the wild.

In a week the first caterillars emerged from the eggs. There were plenty of them and they were so small that it was difficult to see them without a magnifying glass.

That what is left of the eggs after the caterpillars have hatched.

Caterpillars are growing and feeding on the nettle. We have just four of them left. They haven't reached the size of their ancestors yet, but they have the same white spots on their backs. The artificial food is probably more nutritious than the common nettle, because they are growing so slowly. Nevertheless, we are still hoping that some of them will grow into the butterflies.

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