Your Caterpillar is Now 18 Days Old.

Click on a picture for a close-up view.

Picture #1
Picture #2
Picture #3
Picture #4

Your caterpillar was still munching away this morning and then suddenly stopped. It walked away from an unfinished leaf, looked around and headed for a quiet spot at the top of its enclosure. At this size a caterpillar can move quickly when they want to. In the wild a caterpillar may travel quite a distance looking off into the distance in search of just the right place to make its big change. A few seconds later your caterpillar was already preparing a silk pad at the desired location. That same silk that had been used as a safety line so many times before is now being spread in a circular mound with a small silk ball in the middle. How do they know exactly what to do? This is definitely a skill which requires planning and effort. The pad can be attached to most anything, and we have found caterpillars hanging in some very interesting places (on leaves, stems, under furniture, behind books, on walls, even ceilings). They will make a pad just about anywhere that stays still long enough.

After finishing the silk pad something interesting happens...your caterpillar actually turns around and grabs it with its back side, Picture #2. Evolution is so interesting! How did this creature's first predecessors ever start this process millions of years ago? Is this caterpillar showing intelligence when it chooses a place to attach its silk pad or where to hide or when it makes a "tool" for hanging? Well there is lots to think about when you take the time to watch closely. It is now afternoon and your caterpillar is still hanging in its "J" position, Picture #3. Every few minutes it seems to be doing a situp as it pulls its head up to its feet. We forgot to point out your caterpillar's feet! It has 3 front pairs of pointed feet and 5 pairs of clasper feet which can hold on with great strength! Never pull a caterpillar from an object it is grasping to as you can injure the caterpillar...let it walk to you, caterpillars like to climb vertically so placing your hand or an object in front and above it will work best.

If you look closely at picture #4 you may notice that the antennae have shriveled up. This is a sign that something very, very, very strange is about to happen. I am sure the following pictures will interest you as your friend wriggles out of its skin for the last time as a caterpillar. We call this the dance as there is plenty of spinning and twirling as your caterpillar tries to rid itself of the old skin.

Picture #5
Picture #6
Picture #7

Look closely at each picture and you will see that all the parts of an adult butterfly are already present. There are wings and antennae as well as a new body structure. Once the skin splits apart and falls to the ground your caterpillar will finally stop wriggling round and around. This bright green color is exactly the same as the leaves it has been eating for the past few weeks. Over the next few hours the outside skin will harden and be called a chrysalis or pupae. These few hours are also very dangerous for your caterpillar as it has no defense. Again your mesh enclosure is important to stop another wasp from laying eggs inside the soft skinned chrysalis.

It has been a long day for your caterpillar and it deserves a rest...and rest it will.

Every day the Migration race continues with millions of Monarchs flying North. They need Millions of Milkweed plants and heroes like you who take action on their behalf. This is a Nationwide project and many people are needed in every region to assist the Monarchs. Please take a moment to think of friends and relatives you can contact and get involved in this important campaign. use this link for more ideas on how you can help the Monarchs.

This link will give you access to Free seeds, Milkweed plants, and important plant care information.

The live Monarch Foundation brings you this free learning experience and hope you will share your, lessons with others and help Butterflies in your area by inspiring others to take action and plant seeds for their caterpillar children. Please take advantage of our Free Seed Program , our low cost plants and butterfly rearing supplies and please tell others about this online pet adventure!

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