Category: caterpillars

Hey this is probably a super lame question but…

Hey this is probably a super lame question but is it true that caterpillars liquify to become butterflies in the chrysalis? Thank you!!

Not a stupid question at all! I don’t know the details off the top of my head, but my understanding is that you are correct. When the chrysalis first forms, you can see a lot of the inner structure of the caterpillar’s insides (especially when backlit! I have photos, need to dig them up, though), but this disappears pretty quickly. As the butterfly becomes more developed, you can start to see signs of the new anatomy. This is most apparent after the scales on the wings develop, and the wing colors show through the mostly transparent chrysalis.

But what happens between these two stages? Nothing comes in or goes out of the chrysalis, and the easiest way to reuse materials is to break them down into essential components! It’s easier to reknit a sweater if you unravel the old one, and it’s easier to rebuild an insect if you liquefy it (or, rather, it liquefies itself). Living organisms are largely just organized proteins, chemicals, and minerals in water.

Thanks for asking!
August 21, 2018

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Fetal moths. Vine Sphinx eggs in the microscope today. They had started changing colors so I know I needed a closer look. Good thing I did!

Both were green striped this morning. By afternoon, one had turned yellow (the color of the developing caterpillar!), and the one that was still green had developed a visible heartbeat. The yellow one tested out his chompers!!! These caterpillars are the ones with the tails (aka “hornworms”), and you can see the yellow baby’s little tail curled up by his face.

By evening, the yellow one had hatched. So precious!

July 8, 2018

Right so this chompy baby? Still in the egg? From one week ago?

They grow SO FAST.

July 15, 2018

You’re a good caterpillar parent!!!

Awww thanks. I love my babies

Look how much he grew in ONE DAY!!!

Yesterday morning, I saw the baby was molting (again?! So soon?!). Look at his little face popping off!

This evening? All done! And, CHOCOLATE-flavored! Look how big! Remember, this is the babe who was IN THAT EGG 10 DAYS AGO.

For whatever reason, the three I raised in captivity (who molted in captivity) have turned brown in the final caterpillar stage, compared to the wild ones who were green. I’ve read the brown color is common in captive sphinx moths. Very interesting!

What a mess. Their poops are the size of chickpeas and they can strip a vine bare in no time.

One of the older sausages. I have to drag out the ladder to feed them now, they ate all the vine within my reach!

July 18, 2018

My tiny chompy baby, two weeks old:

July 22, 2018

I just got home today and guess what??

Where is baby??? Wait, that mound wasn’t there before… OH!!!! Baby made it all the way to the bottom 😭

(Above: bad photo of the hole he chewed in the paper towel base so I can watch him 😭)

Recently I was fondly remembering his birth, when I noticed his egg was empty… where did he go?!

He was scaling an empty Question Mark chrysalis. What, you don’t have those laying around? 😛

With his two older siblings. My squishy child is growing so fast 😭

July 23, 2018

It has been a while and I was getting concerned, so last night I dug into the dirt pile to check up on the baby.

Look at this dirt cocoon! Nice and spacious!

This rolly pupa is so cute! My baby was spinning around trying to get comfortable. I put him back in his dirt cocoon after I checked up on him. Nice and healthy!

August 18, 2018

A buncha naked babies this morning. Gulf Friti…

A buncha naked babies this morning. Gulf Fritillaries are the gift that keep on giving.

I found an egg that was hatching out in the yard, and I caught him crawling out and starting to eat his eggshell.

Then I found a caterpillar who had just molted (the spines turn black when they harden).

AND a chrysalis I had moved over to the carrier I take to work (so I can release them when they’re ready to go) had a soft butterfly hanging off it before I left. So I left her outside to harden her wings, so she can ultimately cover the passion vine with even MORE eggs.

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EMERGENCY POST!!!
Adorable baby milkweed butterflies are READY TO BE BORN!!!

I am not sure if these are Monarch or Queen butterflies, and it DOESN’T MATTER because BOTH ARE FAT AND STUMPY with good A+ stripes and wiggly bits.

I love watching my butterfly fetuses move around and practice chomping before they hatch 😭

August ¾, 2018 (hey it’s 2 am I don’t know what day to call this!)

Good News!

It’s a Queen! Queens are closely related to monarchs and look very similar, but Queens have 3 pairs of tentacles, while Monarchs have 2:

(Above: Monarch baby, one set of tentacles by the head, the other set by his booty)

I didn’t realize they were born with them! A lot of newborn caterpillars look the same when they are born and I’m used to waiting until the first molt to know for sure.

Never seen a Queen before and have no idea what I’m talking about? That’s okay! Queens mostly stick to the south (they are not nearly as widespread as Monarchs), so if you haven’t spent much time in the southern edges of the US, you wouldn’t be familiar with them.

Left: Queen (white spots on the top wing!) Right: Monarch (black veins on the top wing!)

I’m excited, I’ve never seen a Queen caterpillar before! But…

Bad News!

The newborn baby milkweed butterflies… are cannibalistic. I thought the eggs on the leaf were far enough away from each other:

I was wrong. This morning, I had the happy little caterpillar you see above and a hole in the leaf where the other egg had been.

This wasn’t a case of “hungry newborn baby eats leaf and accidentally consumes sibling,” this caterpillar went out of her way to murder.

Stat tuned

August 4, 2018

Wait wait never mind he was just lost!!!!

Moar updates

There are a total of four baby Queens, they grew their first stripes, and they are starting their first molt! I can’t wait for their cute little stumpy tentacles to get longer!

August 6, 2018

image

The most precious bab

August 8, 2018

Third instar already?

Look at those tentacly bits 😭

August 9, 2018 (morning)

They grow so fast!

Perfect in every way 💛🖤💛

August 9, 2018 (evening)

Back to the Microscope!

I can’t even handle this 😭

August 10, 2018

Y’all

The microscope pics were from this morning. I’m home from work now

And

They’re all molting again

August 10, 2018

This season’s hottest trend:

Tentacles

Queens are now 4th instar (caterpillars usually pupate after their 5th)

August 11, 2018

SO LARGE after less than 12 hours!!!

August 11, 2018 (night)

Also checkout the gifset of these guys I posted separately! [link]

Good morning!

One of the Queens relocated to the side of the tank and will not move. Usually this is a sign of an upcoming molt. So soon?! They’re so big!

August 12, 2018 (morning)

Good evening!

I didn’t notice the yellow mustache before. They didn’t explode with growth today (or so I think). But they are much easier to kiss now. :X

August 12, 2018 (evening)

Look at their little white socks 😭

Somebody had attached their leaf to the lid of their enclosure with silk, and I rudely detached it when I took it off to feed them this morning. Sorry baby!

August 13, 2018 (morning)

I hope they grow up soon because this Queen Caterpillar Livepost Extravaganza is getting LOOOONG!

Looks like the last molt, unless I counted wrong and I wake up to three chrysalids! Exciting! They got really scrunched up, which I don’t remember from earlier molts. I kinda do want a few more days of caterpillars because they are not quite fat enough for me.

August 13, 2018 (evening)

EMERGENCY

QUEENS ARE DANGLING. I REPEAT. QUEENS ARE DANGLING.

We’re PUATING TONIGHT!!!! (Guess I counted wrong after all!)

August 13, 2018

Today is The Day

They’re gonna do it!!!!

August 14, 2018 (morning)

THEY’RE HERE!!!

I caught two pupating on video, one right after the other (!!!). The gifs are from the video, the photos are about an hour after pupation. They change their shape quite a bit when they harden into a chrysalis!

Will post the video when I have internet, but for now please enjoy these gifs 😭

Sidenote: I’m wearing my moth shirt. I think it’s good luck!

August 14, 2018

Wow this is long

Anyway, FIRST PUPATION VIDEO IS UP!!! [link]

Update: the whole video is also up!!!

August 14, 2018

Queen pupation #1! Keep it muted, my air filte…

Queen pupation #1! Keep it muted, my air filter is loud and annoying (sorry!) this video provides the sideview of a Queen butterfly caterpillar pupating.

Please see main Queen Livepost Thread here: https://nanonaturalist.tumblr.com/post/176991091576/nanonaturalist-nanonaturalist (note: tumblr may block the link, you can copy and paste the url if it does. I’ll fix it when I can get on an actual computer).

Also, please eagerly anticipate Queen Pupation #2 video, which shows THE FACE-VIEW of a Queen caterpillar pupating (YES THERE IS A FACE!!!). I will update this post with the link to that video when I can get it up.

UPDATE: I was able to get the WHOLE VIDEO UP! https://nanonaturalist.tumblr.com/post/176995827331/the-whole-queen-caterpillar-molting-video-i

August 14, 2018

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EMERGENCY POST!!!
Adorable baby milkweed butterflies are READY TO BE BORN!!!

I am not sure if these are Monarch or Queen butterflies, and it DOESN’T MATTER because BOTH ARE FAT AND STUMPY with good A+ stripes and wiggly bits.

I love watching my butterfly fetuses move around and practice chomping before they hatch 😭

August ¾, 2018 (hey it’s 2 am I don’t know what day to call this!)

Good News!

It’s a Queen! Queens are closely related to monarchs and look very similar, but Queens have 3 pairs of tentacles, while Monarchs have 2:

(Above: Monarch baby, one set of tentacles by the head, the other set by his booty)

I didn’t realize they were born with them! A lot of newborn caterpillars look the same when they are born and I’m used to waiting until the first molt to know for sure.

Never seen a Queen before and have no idea what I’m talking about? That’s okay! Queens mostly stick to the south (they are not nearly as widespread as Monarchs), so if you haven’t spent much time in the southern edges of the US, you wouldn’t be familiar with them.

Left: Queen (white spots on the top wing!) Right: Monarch (black veins on the top wing!)

I’m excited, I’ve never seen a Queen caterpillar before! But…

Bad News!

The newborn baby milkweed butterflies… are cannibalistic. I thought the eggs on the leaf were far enough away from each other:

I was wrong. This morning, I had the happy little caterpillar you see above and a hole in the leaf where the other egg had been.

This wasn’t a case of “hungry newborn baby eats leaf and accidentally consumes sibling,” this caterpillar went out of her way to murder.

Stat tuned

August 4, 2018

Wait wait never mind he was just lost!!!!

Moar updates

There are a total of four baby Queens, they grew their first stripes, and they are starting their first molt! I can’t wait for their cute little stumpy tentacles to get longer!

August 6, 2018

image

The most precious bab

August 8, 2018

Third instar already?

Look at those tentacly bits 😭

August 9, 2018 (morning)

They grow so fast!

Perfect in every way 💛🖤💛

August 9, 2018 (evening)

Back to the Microscope!

I can’t even handle this 😭

August 10, 2018

Y’all

The microscope pics were from this morning. I’m home from work now

And

They’re all molting again

August 10, 2018

This season’s hottest trend:

Tentacles

Queens are now 4th instar (caterpillars usually pupate after their 5th)

August 11, 2018

SO LARGE after less than 12 hours!!!

August 11, 2018 (night)

Also checkout the gifset of these guys I posted separately! [link]

Good morning!

One of the Queens relocated to the side of the tank and will not move. Usually this is a sign of an upcoming molt. So soon?! They’re so big!

August 12, 2018 (morning)

Good evening!

I didn’t notice the yellow mustache before. They didn’t explode with growth today (or so I think). But they are much easier to kiss now. :X

August 12, 2018 (evening)

Look at their little white socks 😭

Somebody had attached their leaf to the lid of their enclosure with silk, and I rudely detached it when I took it off to feed them this morning. Sorry baby!

August 13, 2018 (morning)

I hope they grow up soon because this Queen Caterpillar Livepost Extravaganza is getting LOOOONG!

Looks like the last molt, unless I counted wrong and I wake up to three chrysalids! Exciting! They got really scrunched up, which I don’t remember from earlier molts. I kinda do want a few more days of caterpillars because they are not quite fat enough for me.

August 13, 2018 (evening)

EMERGENCY

QUEENS ARE DANGLING. I REPEAT. QUEENS ARE DANGLING.

We’re PUATING TONIGHT!!!! (Guess I counted wrong after all!)

August 13, 2018

Today is The Day

They’re gonna do it!!!!

August 14, 2018 (morning)

nanonaturalist: nanonaturalist: nanonaturalis…

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EMERGENCY POST!!!
Adorable baby milkweed butterflies are READY TO BE BORN!!!

I am not sure if these are Monarch or Queen butterflies, and it DOESN’T MATTER because BOTH ARE FAT AND STUMPY with good A+ stripes and wiggly bits.

I love watching my butterfly fetuses move around and practice chomping before they hatch 😭

August ¾, 2018 (hey it’s 2 am I don’t know what day to call this!)

Good News!

It’s a Queen! Queens are closely related to monarchs and look very similar, but Queens have 3 pairs of tentacles, while Monarchs have 2:

(Above: Monarch baby, one set of tentacles by the head, the other set by his booty)

I didn’t realize they were born with them! A lot of newborn caterpillars look the same when they are born and I’m used to waiting until the first molt to know for sure.

Never seen a Queen before and have no idea what I’m talking about? That’s okay! Queens mostly stick to the south (they are not nearly as widespread as Monarchs), so if you haven’t spent much time in the southern edges of the US, you wouldn’t be familiar with them.

Left: Queen (white spots on the top wing!) Right: Monarch (black veins on the top wing!)

I’m excited, I’ve never seen a Queen caterpillar before! But…

Bad News!

The newborn baby milkweed butterflies… are cannibalistic. I thought the eggs on the leaf were far enough away from each other:

I was wrong. This morning, I had the happy little caterpillar you see above and a hole in the leaf where the other egg had been.

This wasn’t a case of “hungry newborn baby eats leaf and accidentally consumes sibling,” this caterpillar went out of her way to murder.

Stat tuned

August 4, 2018

Wait wait never mind he was just lost!!!!

Moar updates

There are a total of four baby Queens, they grew their first stripes, and they are starting their first molt! I can’t wait for their cute little stumpy tentacles to get longer!

August 6, 2018

image

The most precious bab

August 8, 2018

Third instar already?

Look at those tentacly bits 😭

August 9, 2018 (morning)

They grow so fast!

Perfect in every way 💛🖤💛

August 9, 2018 (evening)

Back to the Microscope!

I can’t even handle this 😭

August 10, 2018

Y’all

The microscope pics were from this morning. I’m home from work now

And

They’re all molting again

August 10, 2018

This season’s hottest trend:

Tentacles

Queens are now 4th instar (caterpillars usually pupate after their 5th)

August 11, 2018

SO LARGE after less than 12 hours!!!

August 11, 2018 (night)

Also checkout the gifset of these guys I posted separately! [link]

Good morning!

One of the Queens relocated to the side of the tank and will not move. Usually this is a sign of an upcoming molt. So soon?! They’re so big!

August 12, 2018 (morning)

Good evening!

I didn’t notice the yellow mustache before. They didn’t explode with growth today (or so I think). But they are much easier to kiss now. :X

August 12, 2018 (evening)

Look at their little white socks 😭

Somebody had attached their leaf to the lid of their enclosure with silk, and I rudely detached it when I took it off to feed them this morning. Sorry baby!

August 13, 2018 (morning)

I hope they grow up soon because this Queen Caterpillar Livepost Extravaganza is getting LOOOONG!

Looks like the last molt, unless I counted wrong and I wake up to three chrysalids! Exciting! They got really scrunched up, which I don’t remember from earlier molts. I kinda do want a few more days of caterpillars because they are not quite fat enough for me.

August 13, 2018 (evening)

EMERGENCY

QUEENS ARE DANGLING. I REPEAT. QUEENS ARE DANGLING.

We’re PUATING TONIGHT!!!! (Guess I counted wrong after all!)

August 13, 2018

nanonaturalist: nanonaturalist: nanonaturalis…

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EMERGENCY POST!!!
Adorable baby milkweed butterflies are READY TO BE BORN!!!

I am not sure if these are Monarch or Queen butterflies, and it DOESN’T MATTER because BOTH ARE FAT AND STUMPY with good A+ stripes and wiggly bits.

I love watching my butterfly fetuses move around and practice chomping before they hatch 😭

August ¾, 2018 (hey it’s 2 am I don’t know what day to call this!)

Good News!

It’s a Queen! Queens are closely related to monarchs and look very similar, but Queens have 3 pairs of tentacles, while Monarchs have 2:

(Above: Monarch baby, one set of tentacles by the head, the other set by his booty)

I didn’t realize they were born with them! A lot of newborn caterpillars look the same when they are born and I’m used to waiting until the first molt to know for sure.

Never seen a Queen before and have no idea what I’m talking about? That’s okay! Queens mostly stick to the south (they are not nearly as widespread as Monarchs), so if you haven’t spent much time in the southern edges of the US, you wouldn’t be familiar with them.

Left: Queen (white spots on the top wing!) Right: Monarch (black veins on the top wing!)

I’m excited, I’ve never seen a Queen caterpillar before! But…

Bad News!

The newborn baby milkweed butterflies… are cannibalistic. I thought the eggs on the leaf were far enough away from each other:

I was wrong. This morning, I had the happy little caterpillar you see above and a hole in the leaf where the other egg had been.

This wasn’t a case of “hungry newborn baby eats leaf and accidentally consumes sibling,” this caterpillar went out of her way to murder.

Stat tuned

August 4, 2018

Wait wait never mind he was just lost!!!!

Moar updates

There are a total of four baby Queens, they grew their first stripes, and they are starting their first molt! I can’t wait for their cute little stumpy tentacles to get longer!

August 6, 2018

image

The most precious bab

August 8, 2018

Third instar already?

Look at those tentacly bits 😭

August 9, 2018 (morning)

They grow so fast!

Perfect in every way 💛🖤💛

August 9, 2018 (evening)

Back to the Microscope!

I can’t even handle this 😭

August 10, 2018

Y’all

The microscope pics were from this morning. I’m home from work now

And

They’re all molting again

August 10, 2018

This season’s hottest trend:

Tentacles

Queens are now 4th instar (caterpillars usually pupate after their 5th)

August 11, 2018

SO LARGE after less than 12 hours!!!

August 11, 2018 (night)

Also checkout the gifset of these guys I posted separately! [link]

Good morning!

One of the Queens relocated to the side of the tank and will not move. Usually this is a sign of an upcoming molt. So soon?! They’re so big!

August 12, 2018 (morning)

Good evening!

I didn’t notice the yellow mustache before. They didn’t explode with growth today (or so I think). But they are much easier to kiss now. :X

August 12, 2018 (evening)

Look at their little white socks 😭

Somebody had attached their leaf to the lid of their enclosure with silk, and I rudely detached it when I took it off to feed them this morning. Sorry baby!

August 13, 2018 (morning)

I hope they grow up soon because this Queen Caterpillar Livepost Extravaganza is getting LOOOONG!

Looks like the last molt, unless I counted wrong and I wake up to three chrysalids! Exciting! They got really scrunched up, which I don’t remember from earlier molts. I kinda do want a few more days of caterpillars because they are not quite fat enough for me.

August 13, 2018 (evening)

lesdeuxcygnes: bowelflies: completely illegal…

lesdeuxcygnes:

bowelflies:

completely illegal how dare u exist like this

@nanonaturalist do you recognise this tiny bab?

This bab, who is perfect in every way (except it is not in front of me so I cannot kiss), is a Slug Caterpillar. Aptly named! The family is Limacodidae. In North America, we have a handful of species, but in the tropics, there are many, many more. Many North American species have stinging spines, as this beautiful Spiny Oak Slug:

The little jelly button in the above post does not appear to be from North America, so it’s not in any of my books, but I think it may be Belippa sp.

Stole this photo from iNaturalist! This bab is from India. [link]

I have seen a couple adults, who are also tiny and precious.

Above: Yellow-shouldered (left) and Yellow-collared (right) slug moths

These are very good moths. Also, there are some butterflies with slug-like caterpillars. The hairstreaks, blues, and metalmarks (family Lycaenidae) are very similar to slug moths!

Above: a Henry’s Elfin caterpillar. I had NO IDEA what this thing was when I found it three years ago. Time flies!

August 13, 2018

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EMERGENCY POST!!!
Adorable baby milkweed butterflies are READY TO BE BORN!!!

I am not sure if these are Monarch or Queen butterflies, and it DOESN’T MATTER because BOTH ARE FAT AND STUMPY with good A+ stripes and wiggly bits.

I love watching my butterfly fetuses move around and practice chomping before they hatch 😭

August ¾, 2018 (hey it’s 2 am I don’t know what day to call this!)

Good News!

It’s a Queen! Queens are closely related to monarchs and look very similar, but Queens have 3 pairs of tentacles, while Monarchs have 2:

(Above: Monarch baby, one set of tentacles by the head, the other set by his booty)

I didn’t realize they were born with them! A lot of newborn caterpillars look the same when they are born and I’m used to waiting until the first molt to know for sure.

Never seen a Queen before and have no idea what I’m talking about? That’s okay! Queens mostly stick to the south (they are not nearly as widespread as Monarchs), so if you haven’t spent much time in the southern edges of the US, you wouldn’t be familiar with them.

Left: Queen (white spots on the top wing!) Right: Monarch (black veins on the top wing!)

I’m excited, I’ve never seen a Queen caterpillar before! But…

Bad News!

The newborn baby milkweed butterflies… are cannibalistic. I thought the eggs on the leaf were far enough away from each other:

I was wrong. This morning, I had the happy little caterpillar you see above and a hole in the leaf where the other egg had been.

This wasn’t a case of “hungry newborn baby eats leaf and accidentally consumes sibling,” this caterpillar went out of her way to murder.

Stat tuned

August 4, 2018

Wait wait never mind he was just lost!!!!

Moar updates

There are a total of four baby Queens, they grew their first stripes, and they are starting their first molt! I can’t wait for their cute little stumpy tentacles to get longer!

August 6, 2018

image

The most precious bab

August 8, 2018

Third instar already?

Look at those tentacly bits 😭

August 9, 2018 (morning)

They grow so fast!

Perfect in every way 💛🖤💛

August 9, 2018 (evening)

Back to the Microscope!

I can’t even handle this 😭

August 10, 2018

Y’all

The microscope pics were from this morning. I’m home from work now

And

They’re all molting again

August 10, 2018

This season’s hottest trend:

Tentacles

Queens are now 4th instar (caterpillars usually pupate after their 5th)

August 11, 2018

SO LARGE after less than 12 hours!!!

August 11, 2018 (night)

Also checkout the gifset of these guys I posted separately! [link]

Good morning!

One of the Queens relocated to the side of the tank and will not move. Usually this is a sign of an upcoming molt. So soon?! They’re so big!

August 12, 2018 (morning)

Good evening!

I didn’t notice the yellow mustache before. They didn’t explode with growth today (or so I think). But they are much easier to kiss now. :X

August 12, 2018 (evening)

Look at their little white socks 😭

Somebody had attached their leaf to the lid of their enclosure with silk, and I rudely detached it when I took it off to feed them this morning. Sorry baby!

August 13, 2018 (morning)