Went out to check the caterpillars today, and this is what I saw. Strange, gorgeous, and creepy. I had read that the caterpillars would burrow to cocoon themselves, but ours stayed on the surface. How lucky that we get to see the process! This guy still looked like a caterpillar only yesterday.
Thought I would post the process in pictures, along with a few observations.
Originally, saw the caterpillars on a hiking trail, then they made their way for a swim in our pool.
We had read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and so Liam decided to give him a nice green leaf. At this point, the caterpillar is probably three inches long, and about as big around as my pinky.
Gave two of them a home in a plastic container I picked up at Goodwill. At this point, we didn’t know they needed dirt.
Started offering various plants from our yard as food. Determined they liked these yellow flowers, whatever they are. This one ate them from the inside out. Fed them 4-5 flowers each morning and evening.
Gave them a few sticks to climb.
Read up on white lined sphinx caterpillars, and learned they need 4-5 inches of dirt to burrow into, in order to cocoon. If you look in the center of the pic, you can see the back of a buried caterpillar.
The caterpillars began to get shorter and darker. I had no idea they would shrink before cocooning.
At this point, I wondered if they were dead. But they still appeared to be breathing, so we left them alone to sleep.
One caterpillar cocooned, to our surprise on top of the soil. We did have a covering of leaves in the jar though- I removed them to photograph them. We also left the jar outside, so the temperature would be natural.
The other begins to cocoon, also on top of the soil. If you look at the left of the picture, there is a caterpillar husk- I did not know they shed the outer layer, like a snake.
Close up of the husk- you can see the face, and the point that was at the end of the caterpillar. Will keep posting pics as the process progresses- I can’t help myself!