This week I have been playing Midwife to several Large Whites, at least two of which have needed my assistance and hatched out onto my finger, which was rather nice.
I watched the whole hatching process with one of them this morning from the second the pupa began to split to the moment the butterfly finally pulled his wings free and emerged fully. The whole process took over an hour and the butterfly was exhausted by the end of it. This was the first one I have witnessed from start to finish- I have been keeping an eye but missing the moment, with eight or so already having hatched out without me seeing any of it. Of the 46 pupas, about half have hatched and about half of those have been successful. Of the others, the main problem has been the failure of their wings to open up fully, leaving them with twisted frilly dresses which aren't much use for flying. T'is the way of nature- not everything survives.
This is how they looked as caterpillars....
They then began to crawl up the side of the box and fall silent and still...
After a few days the pupas began to develope...
The caterpillar secures him or herself to the side of the box with a single thread.
This is evident in the pupa too
This shot is the underside of a pupa
The wings are clearly evident in this picture
After ten days or so the butterfly begins to emerge, a split opening in the top of the pupa through which the butterfly wriggles (hard work, having watched them struggle to get free).
The wings are usually the last things to fully emerge after the body
Once out of the pupa the butterfly hangs on the side of the box to allow the wings to flood with liquid
Unfortunately, this ones wings didn't open properly and the butterfly died.
This one was more successful
And flew off successfully into the garden, narrowly missing a passing Robin (how awful would that have been!)
Its been a very interesting experiment to watch them through their various stages, even if they are rather smelly at the caterpillar stage (L flatly refused to eat his tea with them anywhere near him due to the boiled cabbage smell). I guess what I would really like is to have some Moth Children, but unless you know who they are and therefore what to feed them it's an almost impossible job.
Gorgeous warm sunshine here today. We're off Mulberrying again in a minute. I'll try to post the Blackberry Ice Cream and some of the Jelly recipes tomorrow, provided there are no last-minute panic pre-school preparations to do before Thursday!
Till next time, enjoy the rest of your day.