Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Caterpillar Of The Common Mormon Butterfly

In September I noticed this tiny caterpillar on a citrus plant in my
back yard. Since the plant wasn't doing well, I took the caterpillar
and placed it on a leaf of a lemon plant in my front yard. It moved
around on the new leaf and must've wondered why on earth someone had
taken it out of its comfort zone:) After some baby-wriggles, it seemed
to settle down.

Citrus and Curry Leaf plants are the food of the Common Mormon. The
caterpillar hatches in three days and goes through five instars before
it turns into a pupa.

Keep on chomping as many leaves you can! I thought caterpillars moved
to another leaf after finishing off the first one. But this one went
from one half-eaten leaf to the other, and then back to the first one!

Although I've seen and photographed caterpillars several times, they
have always disappeared before I could get the shots of all the
different stages. With so many birds coming everyday, it's a wonder
this one is still safe! But for a while I was afraid the same thing
had happened. I couldn't locate the pupa on the citrus plant. It'd
somehow gone to the hibiscus bush (some of the branches are within
a hair's breadth). I hope I can photograph it emerging as a butterfly.
But if it chooses to do that at 3.50 AM then my only chance will be gone!!


Sue Swift said...

Cool caterpillar! hope you get a photo of the resulting butterfly too. Would love to see what it's like.

rocksea said...

have seen this caterpillar at home :) they looked peculiar, especially while transforming to the pupal stage.

hope you get rest of the series! otherwise it is here:

azplantlady said...

What great photos. I think the caterpillar ate a little bit from each leaf just to make sure that the other leaves didn't taste better.

Susie said...

I don't see how you saw that little tiny one Kanak. You got some good eyes girl!

Mia said...

He is actuelly real cute, your caterpillar, just look at his green face :)

islandgal246 said...

What a cutie! Kanak let us hope that it does not emerge at 3.00 am LOL. They normally emerge at dawn. I am also awaiting the arrival of two Orion butterflies (that is what I think they are). So in about a week or so I will have pics and something to post about.

sweet bay said...

An amazing series of photos! I hope you catch the butterfly.

Kanak Hagjer said...

Sue....keeping my fingers crossed!!:) Thanks for stopping by.

Rocksea...I checked it out and wow! That's amazing! Loved the whole series. Beautiful...!

Noelle, that's right...Smart moves!!:) I haven't observed caterpillars closely before so was a little surprised.

Susie, thanks!!! I was lucky, I guess:) Never seen any that tiny before!

Mia...exactly what I think too!! I love the fifth favourite!:)

Helen...I sure hope so too, about the emerging, I mean. Would love to see the Orions...good luck with the capture!

Kanak Hagjer said...

Sweetbay, thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Wow - what photos Kanak! You are amazing to have gotten these shots. I sure hope you have success!

Carol said...

Kanak what a wonderful documentation of the life cycle of the caterpillar... great photos of the transformation from instar to chrysalis. Brava! Carol

Sandi McBride said...

You know that saying, the patience of Job? You've just given me proof that it exists.

Stephanie said...

The caterpillar looks so innocent and cute on the pictures. But chew on leaves right?

Esther Montgomery said...

It must have been very exciting, creating a sequence like this.

I don't think I've noticed a caterpillar shaped as this one is in its early stages - nor seen a photo of one that makes it look so cuddly!

Lemon leaves look so un-tempting and leathery for such a little creature. Imagine what its scaled up jaws / teeth / scrapers must be like! Horror film material.

I've been wondering what happened to all the caterpillars which ate my Nasturtiums and Romanesques this year. Why was my garden never a cloud of butterflies? We don't even have birds in it! (Cats!)


Autumn Belle said...

You have succcesfully capture a major part of a caterpillar's life. Now I cant wait for the common mormon butterfly to emerge.

lotusleaf said...

Very interesting photos Kanak. Hope you will be able to get one of it as it emerges as a butterfly.

Kanak Hagjer said...

Mildred, thanks! I hope I do!!

Carol, thanks! This is something I've done for the very first time!

Sandi...I'm honoured! But it was the most exciting experience!

Esther...oh, it was! I was away for a couple of days recently and I thought about this baby so many times! I just wanted it to be safe till I got back!

These caterpillars are, like you say, cuddly(-looking):). Last year one had grown fat and green but vanished before it could turn into a pupa. If ever I have to relocate a caterpillar of the same species, I'll place it on a tender leaf...maybe it won't make any difference but still.....

Here's hoping that your caterpillars will reward you, or the garden, at least, by flitting about in their butterfly forms!:) Birds or no birds!

Autumn Belle...I wish that'd happen! Hoping for the chance to come my way!!

Kanak Hagjer said...

Padma, thanks! Your comment came in as I was responding to the other comments. By my calculation, the17th is the D-day.

Wendy said...

You take such cool pics! I loved watching the caterpillar through it's stages. Isn't it fun?
Must tell you I love your header. I may have already told you, but I do love the colours.
Happy gardening.

Kanak Hagjer said...

Thanks, Wendy. Thrilled to read your comment about my header!:) Still keeping an eye on the's gone into a darker shade of green now.

birdy said...

You have nicely photographed the different instars of the caterpillar. Would love to see the pictures of newly emerged butterfly.