Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Escape of the (not so) Wee Beasties

A week or so ago, I wrote about the caterpillars that I found on one of the mango trees which I decided to try to rear to see what the adult is.  I started with 6 caterpillars and put 3 each in 2 different containers with leaves from the mango I found them on.  Since then half have died, but 3 are thriving; 2 in one container and 1 in the other.  When I checked on them this morning they were doing fine.  I was a little concerned about the container with 2 not getting enough air exchange, so I left the top off.  At about 1:30 all was well when I showed them to a visitor, but I did not take the time to replace the lid.  You know what happened next...  

While out taking compost to the box around 3:00, I stopped to get some fresh mango leaves for the beasties.  But when I looked in their container I saw that 2 had made their escape!  I needed to find them so Max didn't wind up on the bad end of a close encounter with them.  I didn't see them on the veranda floor, which I checked first so I didn't accidentally squish them.  I didn't see them on pots or plants next to where their container was; I didn't see them on the screen, or on the wall.   I kept looking and found the 2 of them within about a foot of each other and only about 8 feet from where they started.  Each one was on the side of a plant pot, one fig and one diffenbachia.  I collected them on the fresh leaves, being careful not to touch them with my fingers at the risk of suffering from their stinging hairs, and took the opportunity to get some new photos. 
Its little head is usually retracted into its body.
Another good view of the head.
The grey hairs belong to the cat, but all the black and brown hairs are the hairs of the beastie.
Here is the other escapee with the usual lowered head position, all the better for eating.  Now that it is bigger, it can eat through the thickness of the whole leaf instead of just vacuuming up the surface layer of cells.
They are big enough now that I can replace the plastic with little holes that I was using for the lids, with screen.  Don't want them to get away again - I still haven't been able to ID them.  I'm sure they are dead common around here.  I bet at the plant nursery they can help me out.
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2 comments:

  1. It will be interesting to see how big they grow and what they turn in to.

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    Replies
    1. It will probably be something pretty ugly. But I have to say that the caterpillars are getting more impressive every day. Right now it appears that only 2 of the original 6 are viable.

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