23 July 2008

Monarch caterpillar forming a "J"

When monarch caterpillars reach full size, they become "restless" in their enclosure, wandering about and climbing the sides of the container or any structure inside. They are seeking a slanting or horizontal surface from which they can suspend themselves.

One a suitable location is identified, the caterpillar lays down a carpet of silk to assure a firm attachment and then hangs by his hind feet, with the head curling forward into a "J" configuration. Now begins the first step in the magic of metamorphosis. The caterpillar molts for the final time, shedding his skin (and his head capsule!). What emerges from under the skin is the beautiful jade-green chrysalis inside which the transformation to butterfly will occur.

We have several cats in J formation now. I'll post photos of a chrysalis in a day or two.

If you want to see a video of the process, there is a good one HERE that compresses the process to 40 seconds.

1 comment:

  1. We have one in J formation too--I'm just learning. It was eating heavily this afternoon, and when we came home from our supper, there was the J! Very cool. And you were the first link, and the most "accessible" so I twittered this link.




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