Saturday, 26 April 2014

The very hungry caterpillar ...

And other stories ...


I have many fond memories of reading to my children when they were young and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle certainly brings back warm memories ...

The above image shows a final instar larva of the White Admiral (Limenitis camilla) feeding on honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum)On emergence from the egg, the light brown larva eats the shell before moving to the leaf tip to feed. Here it feeds on each side of the midrib on which it rests, leaving the midrib intact and producing characteristic feeding damage that is quite easy to spot. The larva initially decorates itself with faeces which it uses for camouflage, although this is abandoned after a week or so, after which the larva rests quite openly.

Toward the end of the summer after the second moult, the larva builds a winter retreat, known as a hibernaculum. This is constructed by securing a leaf to the twig with silk (so that the leaf remains attached to the foodplant even after it has died), removing the edges of the leaf, and then folding what remains of the leaf edges together and forming a compartment within which the larva overwinters. The larva emerges from the hibernaculum in the spring and, at the final moult, turns green in colour and starts to feed on the leaf edges rather than from the tip. The full-grown and exotic larva is a spectacular beast which has a curious habit of resting along the centre of a leaf with both front and back ends raised. There are 4 moults in total.

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