Saturday, November 7, 2009

One and Two are MOTHS!

One and Two emerged as moths today! I didn't get to see them emerge, but still very excited to see them sitting patiently in the jar waiting for me to set them free. I snapped some pictures before gently coaxing them onto a Penta leaf to place them on the plant. (getting eatten by mosquitoes in the process!)

Number One was more than ready to come out of the jar.

Number Two (on the left) was vibrating its wings I think because it probably emerged second and was slightly less "developed" than Number One.

Their bodies are more orange than I thought they would be and they're smaller than I expected based on pictures online.

I'm guessing they will hang out a little while, but fly away pretty quickly to find some nectar since I clipped off most of the flowering part of my Penta to feed the caterpillars. Oops. Now I know I have to plan ahead when they are caterpillars so they have food when they are moths.

One and Two started to pupated: October 14
One and Two emerged as moths: November 7
Total: 24 days

--- Estimates for Three and Four ---
Three started to pupate: October 26
Three should emerge: ~November 19

Four started to pupate between: October 27 - November4
Four should emerge between: November 20 - November 28

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Three is going to pupate soon!

Four is still green and may stay green. It's getting bigger and will start to grow so quickly in the next few days (as Three did).

Three is starting to turn from the dark brown to a lighter brown with red tones. It's getting more lethargic too. It doesn't latch onto leaves and branches like a suction cup anymore.

This is so exciting! I wonder when One and Two will emerge. I read it could be a couple weeks or after winter since Fall caterpillars sometimes wait until Spring. I wonder if the mild Texas winter allows certain caterpillars to emerge even in the winter, though.

Hrm...I should probably find another jar to put Four so I can leave Three to do it's thing, but still change out the leaves and feed Four.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Three turned brown

I didn't get a picture of it and not sure exactly what day, but between the 18th and 23rd, Three turned brown. It's getting fatter and fatter everyday. Geez, these guys eat so much.

No change on One and Two.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

We have Pupa!

One and Two have pupated!

Notice how they look kind of pearly. Very pretty!

I think the ant looking thing is the head part with the pinchers. I found it amongst the leaves when I removed the pupa in the bottom right (in the picture above).

Friday, October 16, 2009

More Caterpillars?!

Yes, I found more!

The itty bitty one I unknowingly added to the jar. It must have been on one of the leaves from my mom's Penta. This little guys was the "unknown" worm I thought could be an enemy of the others and causing problems in their habitat. After realizing it probably came from Mom's Penta, I decided to examine the plant this afternoon. That's when I found the slightly larger one.

On the larger one, notice the horn at the tail end is red and there's a row of 3 redish pinchers on the head portion. The pinchers are used to grab hold of the leaves so it can stretch out and compress back in when eating. I'll try to get a video of this soon. The horn and pinchers must turn colors as they get older because the adults had yellowish pinchers and black horns...

These must be babies. How exciting! I'm catching them at so many different stages of the life cycles!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Update on my caterpillar friends...

I guess my chopstick skills aren't refined enough to safely remove caterpillars from Pentas because those 5 I found last Thursday didn't make it through the night. But good news! I found two more brown ones before I went to bed and put them in a jar with lots of leaves.

I know, it's kind of silly that these guys were destroying my plant, but now I'm clipping off leaves to feed to them. I can't help myself. They're just so fascinating!

Well, I told my Mom about the caterpillars last week and she contacted a friend at the County Extensions office. Molly said she'd take them to use for educating on the life cycle of caterpillars. I stopped by her office Friday to drop them off, but she wasn't there. Since she wouldn't be returning and these guys have such a huge appetite (they ate everything the night before!), I decided they probably wouldn't make it through the weekend sitting on a desk. So, I took them home.

I've been stuffing the jar with leaves every night and they've been eating every last scrap. Tonight before I left to meet up with Timo and Geoff, I checked on my new friends. They're a different color! They're lighter brown with a slight redish tint now. They looked moist and the leaves touching the bottom of the jar looked damp. My first reaction was, "Oh no!" I started to panic thinking the leaves I had fed them from my Mom's Penta had been treated with pesticides, making the caterpillars sick. I reached into the jar to pull the leaves out and to "clean" the habitat of whatever was causing a problem. The leaves were sticky and it felt like some sort of webbing was holding everything firming to the sides of the jar. I panicked again when I remembered removing a very small unknown worm from one of the leaves in the jar the night before. "But maybe there were more worms and maybe they aren't friends......OOOOOOH! Maybe they're transforming?!"

See for yourself...

Notice the horn sort of "folding" toward the head...

Notice the "webbing"...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Penta Pests

The last several days leaves on my red Penta have been chomped in half. I immediately thought worms, but didn't see any. After some research online, I still wasn't sure what would be eating my Penta.

Side note: In my online search, I did learn about a recent "discovery" in Texas: Flea Beatles have been found eating rose bush leaves in the Dallas area. Roses aren't typically invaded by these guys.

This afternoon while leaving the apartment, I looked at my plant on the front porch like I always do. Aside from my Penta drooping from the lack of water, many more leaves had been chomped in half! Suddenly, I saw eyes staring back at me!

What are these crazy caterpillars?! They're called Tersa Sphinx Moth Caterpillars. Apparently they LOOOVE Pentas. I pulled 5 of them off with chopsticks (a little scared to touch them with my hands).

Notice the eaten leaves and fat guys hiding?