From caterpillar to Butterfly....
One of my main project to do during 30 days wild was to hatch some Butterflies, I had read how Mandy at Chateau Moorhen, CT at Countryside Tales and especially
Ragged Robin's nature notes, on her other blog...
A year in the life of my wildlife garden had raised butterflies and moths.
I have photographed them the best I could throughout all their stages.
Before we start I want to give a big huge thank you to Ragged Robin, for all your help and worried messages I have sent over the past few weeks.
.....SO THANK YOU.....
I bought some little grub/fish tanks to house my caterpillars in and read up as much as possible how to look after them.
Nettles are their primary food, this made it easy to feed them, apart from getting stung, I was having to wear gloves and pinch the fresh nettles of while my hand was in a bag as the sting from the nettles were making me feel a ill. I made sure I cleaned and fed them every day so by the time they stopped eating I had got the knack of collecting nettles.
It was great to watch them daily and soon they grew bigger and bigger, it says in the notes from UK Butterflies that they feed night and day, but I found mine liked to feed mostly at night, and they still liked to stay together, often wrapping them self's up in a nettle leaf to sleep
On emerging from their eggs, the larvae build a communal web, usually at the top of the nettle, from which they emerge to bask and feed. As the larvae grow, they move to new plants, building new webs along the way. This leaves a trail of webs, decorated with shed larval skins and droppings, that show the passing of time, and allows the patient observer to trace the larvae all the way back to the plant where the eggs were laid. The first experience that some people have of a Small Tortoiseshell is seeing these webs as they extend over stretches of nettle, with the larvae resting communally and quite visibly on the surface of the web, or feeding from nearby leaves.
Larvae have several techniques to avoid predation. When disturbed, a group of larvae will often jerk their bodies from side to side in unison, which must be a formidable sight to any predator. The larvae will also regurgitate green fluid and will, if necessary, curl up in a ball and drop to the ground. Larvae feed by both day and night and there are 4 moults in total.
|This is a photo of the ones at the park|
Because of their shape, size and colouring I was convinced they were Peacock Butterfly, so I divided them up into two tanks.
Here you can see them hanging of the roof of the tank, a few were attached to the twigs I had place in the tank.
and if you look close you can see all the webbing.
The larvae disperse as they become fully grown, and eventually wander off to find a suitable pupation site. The pupa is formed head down, attached to a stem or leaf by the cremaster. The colour of the pupa is quite variable, often having a beautiful metallic sheen. This stage lasts between 2 and 4 weeks, depending on temperature. (all red notes from UK Butterflies)
The pupa was the most beautiful colour, with hints of gold.
After a few days, making sure all the pupa had gone hard, I moved them to a bigger tub with more sticks, at this point I was still thinking they were peacock butterflies. If they are not ready to move they can still "wave" quite fast, this is to deter a predator.
On the 28th day we notice the first pupa had changed colour, it had gone darker and if you shone the torch at it you could see the colours of the butterfly coming through.
By the morning the butterfly had emerged.
still very soft, it was left to the afternoon before taking it out of the box.
They turned out to be
This butterfly can turn up almost anywhere, from city centres to mountain tops. As such, it is one of our most successful butterflies. It is most-often seen, however, where nettles grow in abundance, such as field margins. This butterfly is often encountered while hibernating in an outbuilding, such as a garage, shed or barn, where they may be found in the company of other individuals. Other hibernation sites include hollow trees and wood piles.
No more hatched that day but they were all changing colour, the next day five more were drying out, one thing I notice there was small pools of what looked like blood under the empty pupa, they were released later that day and the rest will be left till tomorrow.
Out in the big wide world.
It has been a wonderful project, and we have all seen things happen we would not have done, if I had not got them in my home.
I recommend you give it a go