silent thunder

Taoist Immortal Monarchs: Alchemy in Nature

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Hornet raided the plant this afternoon. 

Perhaps one or both of the first Instar were small enough to evade notice.

The others were carried off, injected, or eaten on the plant.

 

roughly 2% of eggs survive to adult Butterfly.

 

and the cycle continues...

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Posted (edited)

One recent hatchling avoided notice yesterday and continues.

Such tiny resilience... to remain unoticed.

                        yin potency

        while eating voraciously yang

 

to quote a friend... both, same time.

 

It was a paper wasp, or several, that got the others, not hornets.

They tried starting a nest in the corner of our balcony several weeks ago.

Been hanging about recently and scoping the balcony and eaves.

 

 

Edited by silent thunder
spelling...

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Moved the hosting plant inside some days back.  It's temporary home is the top of our cat tower.

 

Found a second Instar 1 on the plant outside a few days back and brought it inside to the host plant.  Wasps are still scoping the balcony regularly and the outside plant is recovering slowly and has but a few tiny leaves to offer as cover and food.

 

Found an infestation of Milkweed Aphids on the indoor host plant and dealt with it by wiping them off the underside of the leaves with a damp paper towel after a bit of research.  They appeared at first like a yellow pollen, but pollen doesn't manifest on leaves, so we got out the magnifying glass and then id'd them.  These aphids are non-native and invasive, they spread very quickly and may kill the plant if enough of them proliferate by piercing leaves and siphoning plant essence.  They also prevent further eggs being laid as they carpet the underside of leaves, stems and branches.

 

So of our current two fosters, one just molted to instar 3 and is eating partially severed leaves in the inverted pose.  Should be ready to Chrysalis in another 5-8 days.  Instar 2 has hidden so well, we've not seen her for two days now.

 

 

 

 

 

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Few minutes ago... another gal, (HUGE!) regaled us of a few more eggs on our balcony plant. 

 

We've decided to keep the main plant just inside the screen door on the cat tower.  It keeps the wasps away and should prevent another aphid incursion.  We'll transfer the caterpillers to the indoor plant when they hatch as the outdoor plant is still recovering so provides minimal food and cover and the wasps continue to cruise...

 

The egg laying season here has been longer than i anticipated and longer than research indicated... I'm curious how long we'll have females laying eggs. 

 

Also, having the plant at eye level indoors has been a real window expansion into their activity... their eating habits seem very structured, ritualized comes to mind as i watch the 3 and 4 instars, sever a leaf's main vein, cutting off flow and causing the leaf to droop steeply.  They then reverse and move to the tip, upside down and begin feeding their way back up the leaf while it dangles (to my ignorant eyes) by a seeming thread, precariously. 

 

After working their way back to the branch backwards, pick the next leaf and repeat.

 

They also consume their own shed skin as they molt through the first four Instars.  I'd been looking for the shed skins to observe under the microscope, but they don't let them go.  Repurpose those minerals mate!

 

yin love

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So the big female who visted, was either a male, or did not have any eggs left.  There are no eggs on the outside plant.  I was surprised that there'd still be females laying this late.

 

Evades the Wasps as I've come to think of her, made her transition to Chrysalis this morning. 

My gal caught it on video, though too big to post here.

 

Got some decent pics of her final day of inverted feeding:

5f0cc517effc3_Instar4feeding.jpg.87adc8698756e0dd22ad96b8e6f1268e.jpg

5f0cc5387e472_FeedingBlueFilter.jpg.b2bc7335ca4a18ac72f5431abe7b52c6.jpg

and of her making her anchor

5f0cc55740b2f_Anchoring2.jpg.d3e0ebe69b0a684944efced2abd67401.jpg

and then heading into J pose.  She held J pose for 14.5 hours!  Curled up and holding steady... (reminds me of Zhan Zhuang) starting @ 8:05pm last night.

5f0cc5714aed8_JPose.jpg.d1ce327f424b06e05c6da4bf36437437.jpg

 

 

10:30am this morning, (I was still asleep as I've reverted to nocturnal habits in our months long isolation) my gal noticed her starting to wiggle which is the prompt they're going to Chrysalize.  Shortly after they start wiggling their skin splits on the back of the head and then they pump and wiggle their body until the skin splits the entire length and eventually is wiggled off.  Took just under four minutes from first wiggle to full Chrysalis...  utterly incredible to watch. 

5f0cc592c0a91_Chrysalis2.thumb.jpg.9bd544bed9a5d07357fed1b1316b4a6a.jpg

I woke to her fully transitioned form and the video my gal caught of it.  They really anchor themselves well and wiggle rather tenaciously even a few minutes after the skin has detached.  (saved it for microscope viewing, I'll dig the microscope camera out for some pics).

 

Simply stunning process.  She should emerge in about a fortnight...

 

 

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3 hours ago, silent thunder said:

So the big female who visted, was either a male, or did not have any eggs left.  There are no eggs on the outside plant.  I was surprised that there'd still be females laying this late.

 

Ha!  Assumptions!  Just after posting, my gal called me over when she noticed an egg on the outside plant after all...  truly my ignorance is boundless!  How lovely!

 

Then... while on aphid patrol my gal noticed this little guy...  (she is on a roll!)

5f0ce7f221e7d_TussockMothInstar1.thumb.JPG.026d25a4960a338f8c7ac7424cd615d9.JPG

Who, seems to be a first Instar Tussock Moth Caterpiller.  I submitted the sighting with a site designed to verify such.

 

If it is, what a fantastic unexpected surprise.

she will soon transition into this...

Milkweed-Tussock-Marcotte.jpg

And then a Tussock or Tiger Moth.

Euchaetes_eglePCCA20060825-6935B.jpg

 

We'll see...

Edited by silent thunder

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