Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Further dramas in Nurseryland

After the dramas and tragedies recently in my caterpillar nursery, I was sorry to find this handsome and almost fully-grown Buff-tip caterpillar drowned in a pool of water by some flowerpots. Another of the countless daily victims in Nature, I thought, leaving it on a leaf on an outside table after taking the picture of its soggy remains, above.

I came back half-an-hour later and lo! It had moved. And as I watched, the whole scene taking place in the brilliant sunlit and blessed heat which has come our way at last (most un-Bank Holidayish, I know, but there we are), it feebly wiggled and tried to get going.

It was well dried-out as you can see in the second lot of pictures and it very slowly took an interest in a cocktail of leaves which I provided after ID-ing it from the Moth Bible as a Buff-tip. As it happens, this species is almost omnivorous, unlike my picky, willow-fixated Poplar Hawk cattie. So all seemed set fair.

But I fear that my hopes may have been premature and that it may have spent just too long in the water or have been poisoned by whatever else was in there. It seems completely comatose this morning; whether lifeless, I cannot yet say but I am not optimistic. I have placed it in full sunshine (above) after a long spell in the shade following a night when it would have been cool, as it seemed to be the sun which got it going yesterday. Let's hope for the best, everybody.

The Poplar Hawk has meanwhile been keeping me on my toes. This morning, when I got ready to replace the leaves, I couldn't find it. Escape seemed impossible but I was briefly downhearted until I found it exploring the muslin ceiling of its box.  Willow leaves dry up quickly, so I am sure that it was looking for a fresh supply which I instantly provided. I noticed yesterday that it had discarded a skin, which is encouraging, and another good sign is that the supply of poos is being kept up.

The discarded thing is the little white scrap, complete with tiny horn
And here's the reinvigorated cattie, going to work on my fresh leaves


AlexW said...

I have had caterpillars, beetles, and even winged termites recover from long swimming-pool comas and other unconsciousness-inducing events, so one should always be careful with the apparently dead. One beetle's jaws were even spread wide in a death-gape, but it rapidly closed them and put them to use when I gave it some poultry feed.

Some of my acquaintances have said that feeding honey (I presume other sugary things work too) can save dying insects. I have seen polyphagous caterpillars eating pollen and trying to nibble other unconscious insects, so I assume they will be glad to have some sweets.

Martin Wainwright said...

Hi and thanks for very useful advice but I'm afraid that this poor chap has had it. All best, M

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin

I wondered if your caterpillar was starting pupation as it looks like its well grown, but I guess not if its died . Fingers crossed for the Poplar.