His metamorphosis is halfway complete!
When I woke this morning to find Doodle in his J shape, I was SO excited! I've been raising butterflies for years now and this is the first time that one has hung itself on a piece of milkweed rather than the top of the cage. So hard to get nice pictures when you have a plastic lid or metal screen in the background.
I spent 5 1/2 hours on my patio this morning trying to get these shots. I was thankful I didn't have to take all of my gear with me to work, as well as Doodle LOL.
When the caterpillar is full grown it usually leaves the milkweed plant. It crawls away from the milkweed until it finds a safe place to hang. Since I have them in an aquarium they usually hang themselves on the screen top. The caterpillar makes a silk-like mat and then attaches its last pair of legs to the mat. As you can see by the pictures it looks very strong. The caterpillar drops and then hangs there, upside down in a J-shape, for about a day.
During the transformation, the caterpillar starts shaking and twisting and his back splits open and the chrysalis is inside. It keeps splitting until it is completely off. Personally, I think it's pretty weird and eerie!
Within an hour the chrysalis hardens to become a protective shell for the caterpillar inside. Dramatic changes occur inside the chrysalis. The mouth parts must go from being those required for chewing (what the caterpillar needed to eat milkweed leaves) to what a butterfly will need: a straw-like tongue used for sipping nectar from flowers. And a creepy, crawling insect will become a flying insect, and what I think is one of the most beautiful insects on earth!
I haven't updated the blog in a few days but I will add all of the new pictures tomorrow.
Oh, BTW, Doodle is a boy!! Once they form their chrysalis you can tell their gender.
All photos taken today, June 11, 2010 between 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.