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Author Topic: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008  (Read 2243 times)

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Offline Basquo

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The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« on: October 03, 2008, 11:11:45 PM »
Tuesday, on a whim, I bought two more plants from the nursery on my way home, since my dozen or so caterpillars were eating steadily.  Good thing, too, because they were almost done with the plant in the cage.  I switched it out for a fresh one.  Wednesday afternoon they had eaten half of it, and I thought I might have to switch out again Thursday night.  But no, when I got home Thursday afternoon, they had eaten all of it but three little stems about 2 inches long each, and were wondering around the cage in a daze.  So much for the baby caterpillars and eggs on that plant.  I switched it out.

Today I went to the nursery yet again, and they were out of the $8 plants so I had to buy a different plant, at $13.  This is a total of $49 on this brood so far! That's 1/10 of an airline ticket!  When I got home, they had not only eaten that entire plant, one had his head down in the dirt chawing on the root!  They're not too happy with the new plant, but they are eating it, which is a good thing. And most of them look like they'll be ready to cocoon in a day or two, which is also good, because these plants, at $8-13 each (each day) are way different than buying a little herb plant twice a week.

So here they are, all 16 of the hungry little bastards.  Meanwhile, Chato is still dreaming away in his little chrysalis.  He's turned from medium green to a light greenish yellow, so he may be coming out in the next couple of days.  He's the yellowish blob in the picture. I just hope I'm able to get him back in the cage in time to see him emerge.

And dollar-wise, this is the last brood until tax-refund time!  >:(

[attachment deleted by admin]

Offline Mouse

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2008, 11:14:14 PM »
Oh my god. I'm so jealous. They are SO cool.

Offline atlq

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2008, 11:19:03 PM »
they had eaten all of it but three little stems about 2 inches long each, and were wondering around the cage in a daze...
lol...
“Keep up the good work....   And God bless you.”
  --  Sarah Palin, to members of the Alaskan Independence Party, 2008

Offline weasel

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2008, 11:31:31 PM »
hi basquo  :),

                 i really MUST ask ?

                What do you DO with them ?


               Here in Missouri , they are migrating . i feel bad when i run a fluffy fat one over .

               just curious ?

               My Racoon would love them !

                                                                                    Karl
" Live and let Live "

Offline Basquo

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2008, 11:45:44 PM »
I let them cocoon, hopefully still in the cage, then when they come out as butterflies, I open the cage and they fly away. Maybe one day they'll come back. They've yet to say hello, thanks for the food and protection from raccoons!

Offline blondbeauty

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2008, 12:13:00 AM »
Hi Basquo!

I imagine they are caterpillars from Monarch butterflies. When I was a child I raised silkworms. I started with a few and several years latter I had hundreds. I gave them out to other children at school and I had some trouble climbing on mulberry trees to get them food.
Once I took an entire box on a plane to the Canary Islands during a visit to my grandparents. One of them escaped from the box and the woman sitting beside me asked (when she saw the worm walking over my hand) What is that? I answered..."Oh...a silkworm"...Then I opened the box to put it in and she saw that the box was filled with dozens of them, she stood up and started screaming like crazy "I can`t travel sitting by this child! He has a box full of white thick worms...". The flight attendants had to move her to another seat.
Once at my grandparents home my grandmother opened my suitcase and discovered it was filled with mulberry leafs in plastic bags for the entire summer. I had emptied the suitcase my mother prepared and filled it with leafs...
Silkworms butterflies are not really butterflies...they are white fat moths unable to fly but their faces are beautiful. They look oriental and their body is covered in white hair.

« Last Edit: October 04, 2008, 12:32:24 AM by blondbeauty »
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Offline GSOgymrat

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2008, 01:18:36 AM »
What kind of plants do they like?

Offline Basquo

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2008, 01:30:26 AM »
They are Pipevine Swallowtails, and their host is the white-veined Dutchman's pipe, but they are on a different Dutchman's pipe now.  I just checked on them, and either they're sleeping (one is eating) or they've given up on food and are ready to chrysalize (most are in a straight line, heads up right now.) One has even moved to a bamboo stake so I don't think he's napping. When they start turning grey and shrinking, it's time. At least half of them are the size Chato was when he made his move.

Fortunately, two of the plants had dried seed pods on them that I harvested before I gave  them up as food, so I have a couple of hundred seeds to play with. If I can get a good stock of host plants going next year, say ten or so, I might try this variety of butterfly again, but at $8 or more a day, it's an expensive hobby.  I love butterflies, but I might as well be feeding a Great Dane. Or I guess I could give up beer...NOT!

Offline BT65

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2008, 10:09:45 AM »
I can't wait to see them as butterflies.
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline Ann

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2008, 12:14:05 PM »


Fortunately, two of the plants had dried seed pods on them that I harvested before I gave  them up as food, so I have a couple of hundred seeds to play with. If I can get a good stock of host plants going next year, say ten or so, I might try this variety of butterfly again, but at $8 or more a day, it's an expensive hobby.  I love butterflies, but I might as well be feeding a Great Dane. Or I guess I could give up beer...NOT!

Creighton, you could also try to take cuttings - and try different methods of propagating them until you find one that works. You might find they will put out roots simply by putting the cutting into a glass of water. If you are successful, you'll have larger plants quicker.

Ann
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Offline mecch

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2008, 06:04:40 AM »
What an elegant hobby.
Do you absolutely need a certain plant host for the species you choose?
Umm, does anything about it smell?

There is a simple dog-eared greenhouse in Amersterdam filled with lovely butterflies.  If anyone is ever in Amsterdam with nothing better to do, its very special. Especially if you are tripping!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpI_KXHh66Y


“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” 1875 K Marx

Offline Basquo

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2008, 10:30:44 AM »
Most og the ones I've had like a certain plant, and though they sometimes will eat 2 or 3 different plants, it's been my experience that once they're on a particular plant, especially if they were hatched on it, it's hard to get them to eat something different.  Even the same damn plant with a different colour flower!

The only thing that smells is the white-vined Dutchman's pipe vine.  It smells a little like skunk weed when you get up close.

Online RapidRod

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2008, 11:39:42 AM »
Basquo, the caterpillars we have are pests. We don't get the nice ones you are getting to view. We have to spray here to keep them from killing crops and trees. I'll trade you a truck load of these for the ones that don't cause damage and I'll add some Japanese Beetles to go along with them.  ;)

Offline Basquo

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2008, 12:22:44 AM »
HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHATO!!  When Santi and I came home from church today, he was crawling around the terrace, drying his wings.  I'll post some pictures tomorrow.

And one of the caterpillars just cocooned a minute ago, and he's still squirming around like bait on a hook while his new skin dries into a chrysalis.  There are 12 more all lined up on the roof of the cage, all shrunk to the size of peanuts, twitching. They'll cocoon before I get home from work tomorrow.

And happy (late) birthday to me.  We had a little dinner party tonight and everyone was fascinated by the caterpillars. I'll have to let everyone know that they started their slumber tonight after the champagne.

Offline HollyStar

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2008, 01:17:26 AM »
Sounds like a really cool hobby. I can't wait to see new pictures.
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Offline GSOgymrat

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #15 on: October 06, 2008, 01:17:53 AM »
Happy Birthday, Creighton! and Happy Birthday, Chato!

I can't wait to see the pictures. Very cool.

Offline BT65

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #16 on: October 06, 2008, 10:12:10 AM »
Happy birthday Creighton!  I can't wait to see a picture of Chato.
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline bear60

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #17 on: October 06, 2008, 05:08:34 PM »
Verrrrrrry interesting thread Creighton.
Oh and Happy Birthday compadre. ;D

Hugs
Joel
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Offline Basquo

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2008, 05:35:40 PM »
There are 12 (!) cocoons in the cage. This is a record for me.

Here's some pictures of Chato before he took off.  His wingspan is about 2 inches, so I guess he's a size medium.



[attachment deleted by admin]

Offline Basquo

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #19 on: October 09, 2008, 06:13:02 PM »
Dammit!  I just typed out a long post and then lost it because I forgot to resize one of the pictures!  Long story short, I bought another plant for the three remaining caterpillars and here's some pictures of the 12 cocoons:



[attachment deleted by admin]

Offline BT65

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Re: The Great Caterpillar Explosion of 2008
« Reply #20 on: October 09, 2008, 06:14:47 PM »
OMG!  Chato is so beautiful!  And those yellow cocoons, wow.  Thanks, Creighton.
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

 


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