Monday, January 28, 2013

Cleaned out of house and home

When some of the spotted oleander caterpillars (Empyreuma affinis) looked large enough to leave the oleander tree, I decided it was time to clean away the old, empty cocoons from the surrounding area.

Spotted oleander caterpillar (Empyreuma affinis) cocoons in the corner of a window frame.
I wanted to be able to keep track of the new pupae, but I couldn't do that very easily with tens of cocoons from past generations filling every nearby sheltered spot.  However, I acted a bit too late -- there were already a few new pupae hidden among the old cocoons.  Some were already several days old...

Spotted oleander caterpillar (Empyreuma affinis) pupae.
... and one was still being formed.

A brand new pupa of a spotted oleander caterpillar (Empyreuma affinis).
I kept the pupae in an enclosure and for several days saw no change, except that the youngest pupa darkened to match the rest.  Then, one morning, two of the moths emerged.  Unlike my recent experience with the monarch butterfly, there was no sign (that I could recognize) that the moths were about to emerge; thus, I missed both events.  Later that day, we took the moths to the oleander tree and released them into the open.

The first stop for this recently emerged spotted oleander caterpillar (Empyreuma affinis) moth was my mother's leg.
The moths showed no interest in their host plant, and in this they were exactly the same as the monarch butterfly.  Although one of the moths did rest briefly on my mother's pants (as shown in the picture above), they were both soon headed high up into the trees.

One of the moths resting on a palm frond after its first extended flight.

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