Friday, June 15, 2007

Constipated caterpillar?

Pupa, June 16, 2007

Caterpillar - June 3, 2007

Yesterday the Forest Tent Caterpillar I've been raising in a jar at my Union Square office [watching it is much more fun than working!] began to behave strangely. Up until yesterday he had been an all-day munching-machine -- and the bottom 0f his nice new jar I'd gotten from the Container Store was always littered with copious quantities of frass. [Frass = insect droppings]

Yesterday he went on a hunger strike. Maybe he didn't like the leaves I'd provided, I thought , and went to the park to get new ones. But he spurned those too. Moreover he was now constipated.! Not a single black dot of frass to be seen in the jar. Well, of course not--he wasn't eating.

I noticed another change. Instead of steadily eating, he now slowly moved around in a corner of the jar, moving his head first to the left and then to the right. I could also faintly see little strands of spider-web like stuff coming out of some part of his head. He was weaving, back and forth with his loom. Yes, like spiders, some [all?] caterpillars have spinnerets, and the caterpillar was now weaving a sort of web. You may remember that it is a Forest Tent Caterpillar. Well, this looked like a tent-in-the-making.

This morning when I arrived at the office I was astonished to find my caterpillar gone. Instead....[trumpets please] the large white and spotted pupa you see in the picture above..The white ovoid thing is the pupa, the grey around it is the web of fine, transparent filaments: the tent.

I wonder how long it will be before the moth emerges?