I decided to clean Annie and the Orphans' box a few hours ago as they had all by now disappeared under the mud, and all the bark in there was just in the way.
When I lifted one piece of bark I found three neat balls of mud attached to it, three of the Orphans had attached their cocoons to the bark at mud level and had woven around themselves a cocoon consisting of little grains of sand and mud woven together with silk!
They were still moving around in there (I could see them through little gaps in the mud wall) and hadn't reached the pupa stage yet.
The balls of mud are firm to the touch (I did not dare press to hard on them though) and are peppered with the caterpillar's spines which they have obviously shed. The inside of the cocoon seems to be lined with silk (from what I can tell through the gaps) while the outside is mud and the spines. These three are the only ones that made their cocoons 'above ground' (above the layer of mud in their box), the rest have buried themselves and have presumably made the same cocoons 'underground'.
Little Annie was at my doorstep, trying desperately to get in. I popped Annie into a jar and went off to look for more of her kind. Its usually easy to keep caterpillars in a jar or box and feed them regularly if you know what it is that they eat, and as most caterpillars can be found pretty close to their food-source, its not hard figuring out what will be on the menu for them. Little Annie, however was nowhere near a food source (unless she was living off my doormat) and if I wanted her to survive, I had to find more of her kind, hopefully on or near something that they eat.
What I eventually found (after a very short search) was a whole bunch of cute furry caterpillars, all headed for the 'safe' sanctuary of my doormat! I whisked each one up, knowing by now, that they were probably looking for a safe, quiet place to pupate.
I put them in a box filled with mud and lots of bark (not knowing what they preferred to pupate in) and left them there. They seemed quite content because they draped themselves along the bark, looking quite comfortable, and a few hours later I found the last of the orphans busily burying itself in the mud in preparation for the BIG CHANGE.
Grace is a Plain-Jane kinda gal who lives in the Pomegranate tree. She spends her day stretched out along the branches, pretending to be just a bump in the bark, and quietly nibbles the pomegranate leaves like a gentle, graceful little lady.
I found Valentino busily munching on the leaves of a Spider-Lily plant. He is the sweetest looking caterpillar I have ever seen and has the softest, most velvety skin...like a combination of chamois leather and a baby's cheek!!!
Valentino was named 'Valentino' because one of the white spots on his body forms a cute, almost perfect little Valentine heart!!...although, quite like his name, Valentino is a chubby, healthy little fellow as well...
I found Harry munching away at a specific weed that grows very close to the ground. I left him there for a few days and when I got back, the weed was gone (presumably devoured by Harry) and Harry was missing (presumably in search of another weed to demolish).
I looked for him and finally found him by the simple process of rummaging through similar looking weeds.
Having found a whole range of caterpillars busily munching through the greenery that surrounds me, I have decided to deviate a little from my usual theme to document their lives. While I will continue to post inspirational quotes along-with my photographs, I will also keep posting updates on the caterpillars which have wormed their way into my heart.
I am incredibly interested in finding out what all the different caterpillars will turn into!
First you need only look: Notice and honour the radience of everything about you... Play in this universe. Tend to all these shining things around you: The smallest plant, the creatures and objects in your care. Be gentle and nurture. Listen...