My coworkers bring me gifts; every bug they find in the hall ends up in a little cup on my desk. Today’s friend is a little caterpillar.
What would a caterpillar be doing in a building? Well, before they pupate, many moth caterpillars go through a wandering phase, where they leave their host plant (where a smart predator could easily find them), and wander around until they find a spot where they think, “Yes. This is it. My destiny.” Then they start chewing stuff up, spinning a cocoon (if they like), maybe burying themselves underground, then pupate.
I gave this baby a little piece of napkin, and they immediately started chewing it up to make silk to spin a cocoon. Cocoon spinning has been happening all day and we are making great progress!
February 6, 2018
Update! We’re working on the other end now!
Baby’s under the blankie!
More news on Cocoon Watch 2018. Baby has separated the layers of napkin and is spinning a cocoon INSIDE. I’m so proud 😭 Look at that cute little butt peeking out.
It’s almost time to go home, thinking I’ll bring the baby with me to make sure they stay safe.
We named the baby “Slina Serviette,” which roughly translates to “‘Kin Napkin” or “Nap Napkin” in a mashup of European languages, and we have designated the common name of this species as “Napkin Weaver.”
Cocoon Watch 2018 update: Baby Slina is chewing up the bottom layer of napkin so we can watch them pupate. So considerate 😭
Day 2: Baby Slina is SO TIRED and ready to pupate!
Day 3: BABY SLINA PUPATED!!!
The pupa will harden and turn dark in a few hours. Stay tuned!
Hey someone @ me in the updates.
@nanonaturalist I’d be wary of letting the pupa harden on bare plastic – it can flatten and deform on one side as it moulds to the hard surface. Simply setting the pupa on another napkin will prevent this. 🙂
Also, I believe Slina to be a “true armyworm,” Mythimna unipuncta:
(Image source: http://www.pyrgus.de/Mythimna_unipuncta_en.html)
I have such a soft spot for cutworms! They’re so timid and sweet. 🙂
The final update I posted included the adult. Very nice!