Maybe not nine, but this cat,
…has at least two or three. This poor guy. He’s munching along, minding his own business, eating because that’s what he does and plop, he somehow ends up on the floor. I found him, dazed and confused, when I came home. No photo of that as I was scrambling to gently, very gently, pick him up and settle him back on the milkweed buffet.
I set about my own projects and responsibilities and later checked again and…EEK!!! He’s fallen into the water where the milkweed stems rest. Again, no photo of him floating, but I quickly dumped the water out, set him on a paper towel and gently, oh so gently, began prodding him and blowing air on him to dry him out. I have no idea if this is what you do to a drowning caterpillar, but it feels right. At least, it’s something I can do because I know I can’t perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Gross.
To prevent any more accidental dips in the reservoir, I added a paper towel protective layer to the top of the jar, poked the stems of milkweed through and resettled the last three caterpillars, including Mr. Nine Lives Cat.
He was a little pokey to recover, but recover he did, gobbling up milkweed a short time later. Here he is (the darker one) sharing stems with the other, who is also close to pupating.
I wonder if the darker coloring is a response to his near-drowning experience? Probably not and I think his color was a little different before he decided to go for a swim, but there’s definitely a color differential between these two. Also, Mr. Nine Lives Cat also only has two, rather than the normal three, sets of antennae. I don’t know about this guy–marching to a different drummer?. Is that acceptable in the Lepidoptera larval world?
…finally realizing that indeed, he’s not ready to change his caterpillar wardrobe for those of his winged self. Honestly, he just seemed befuddled–like he’d lost his milkweed way. Saturday night I scooped him up and placed him back on the milkweed where he set about his eating routine.
Meanwhile Saturday night into Sunday, the other caterpillar began its morph, forming into the ‘J’.
Fortuitously, during a brief Sunday afternoon Monarch check, I came upon a chrysalis-in-the-making.
I’ve no idea what Mr. Nine Lives Cat is doing. Still hanging around and not yet pupating.
This little caterpillar died. Over the last few days, he stopped eating and succumb…to whatever caterpillars succumb to. He’s the second of the nine larvae to die.
This chrysalis has some kind of glitch. Do you see the black spot?
It also appears to have sustained a little tear as well. I don’t know whether I bumped it or if something else occurred, but it’ll be interesting to observe any anomalies in its butterfly evolution.
This chrysalis (to the left) was the first to pupate and is darkening, which means that the butterfly is in its last developmental stages and it’s a matter of day(s) before emergence.
At least I hope that’s what the darkening means.
Our weather forecast is conducive to butterfly release over the next week or so. Next stop? Butterflies!