Since we last checked in, all 5 of our caterpillars made their transformation to chrysalis! Unfortunately, one of the Georges settled in too close to the side of the container. As he began to pupate, the forming chrysalis touched the plastic side, which must have been enough to cause a small tear in its surface. A few drops of liquid ran down the side, and the little guy stopped pupating. As I have come to find out, the caterpillar actually liquefies as it pupates. From this caterpillar soup, a butterfly will develop over 7 to 10 days. Except in George’s case. RIP, George.
Here are a few shots from DAY 11 and DAY 13:
If you click on the picture from DAY 11, you may be able to see the white stripe running down the side of the caterpillar. Along this stripe are small holes called spiracles. These are the breathing organs of the caterpillar (and the pupa and butterfly). They open into a series of tubes called tracheae, which exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide on their surface. Though arthropods don’t have blood, they do have an analogous substance called hemolymph. When it’s oxygenated, it’s blue!
These guys are pretty vulnerable when they are in chrysalis. Some insects have chemical defense systems, but painted ladies use a different scare tactic to ward off predators, as I found out when I transferred the pupae to their butterfly habitat…