20 October 2012

Goodbye my larva, 'tis time to pupate

Greeny gave me a scare.

A few days ago, he went off his food and he seemed to have stopped growing.  He got all slow and sleepy, scrunched his body up, gradually turned from green to brown, and appeared to give up on life.

I couldn't work out what was happening.  I was expecting a silkworm-like cocoon to be spun, and this was nothing like a silkworm-like cocoon.  I watched him over the hours, and noticed he was going hard and crackly, until he had changed completely.

I am about to post some of the most un-fascinating photos you have ever seen.  Haute photographie, this is not.  Are you ready?  Behold, the new Greeny:

Happy Halloween!  It's Greeny, dressed as a mouse dropping.

Well if that isn't the most awesome photo you've seen today!  Here's another one from a slightly different angle lest you miss any of the excitement:

We know he's alive in there because when he's disturbed, he wriggles!

I know, right?  But it's totally not what it looks like: it's actually Greeny.  As an aside, Greeny did a huge one of those right before changing to brown and crackly.  Who knew the little grub had that much inside him?

I needed to do some research on the cabbage moth tout de suite, because this was not what I was expecting.  It was hard to find information that didn't solely focus on pesticides to kill the common cabbage moth, but I found what I needed in the end.  I learned something that probably most primary school students know:  Some insects pupate inside a pupa instead of a cocoon.

Who knew?  Not me.  Everything I know about caterpillars turning into butterflies and moths I learned from this guy:
And he built a cocoon. Ergo (I assumed) Greeny has got it all wrong.  But he hadn't.

In the last growth stage of some caterpillars they moult as usual but the next skin hardens rather than staying soft, to protect them as they change inside.  They do this instead of spinning a 'silk' cocoon.

I know you already knew that.  I didn't, okay?  In general, the average Australian has less than zero interest in the life cycle of the cabbage moth, preferring to douse their habitat in Dipel and understand the life cycle of pretty butterflies instead.

Now Jessie thinks we should change his name from Greeny to Browny.  I'm thinking he should stay  "Greeny" because if he looks like how I expect him to look when he hatches, we'd have to then change his name again to Whitey.  That would be silly.  I'm going to keep calling him Greeny.

We're now watching Greeny do nothing but look like a mouse dropping for the next ... how long?  The Very Hungry Caterpillar stayed inside for "almost two weeks" but this guy could be different.  If I don't put some netting over Greeny's deluxe egg carton suite, he might just hatch and escape, causing deep emotional suffering among Greeny's human friends.

There is still the potential for Greeny to refuse to pupate in captivity and perish in his suite, again causing deep emotional suffering among Greeny's human friends.

And of course, rough handling or a hungry bird could ruin his release into the wild, yet again causing deep emotional suffering among Greeny's human friends.

The pressure on me to deliver this cabbage moth to local vegetable gardens alive and happy remains strong.

Jolly Greeny.

Greeny Part 1: "Greeny"
Greeny Part 3: "In which procrastination finds me out"


gartcott aka Penny Hannah said...

Oh, the suspense is killing.....

gartcott aka Penny Hannah said...

Just did a spot of research myself.

You may have to bury Greeny/Browny/Whitey as they like to pupate underground. It looks as though a funeral is in order, but there may yet be a winged resurrection.

Givinya De Elba said...

Ooh thanks Penny, if he wants to be underground, we'd better put him there! That could explain why he kept hiding inside chickpea shells and shrivelled lettuce before pupating!

Tracy P. said...

That's awesome! Greeny's human friends are lucky indeed to witness such a thing. :-)

Catherine said...

I love greeny. I've been following his life cycle with great interest so far. I consider myself one of his human friends, mostly because, having had numerous 'pets' thanks to my daughters, I know what's at stake for you.

Fingers crossed for a happy life change!

Sue Ellen said...

For the sake of any of us who've spent hours picking caterpillars off broccoli in the vege garden after the cabbage moths so kindly laid their eggs there, do you think you could "accidentally" chop Greeny in half with the trowel as you bury him? I swear, I won't tell your children. "Oh, poor Greeny still hasn't turned into a butterfly. Maybe he was sick or something..."

Givinya De Elba said...

Oh Sue Ellen. I have BEEN one of those people picking cabbage moth caterpillars off my doomed veges. I know. I really know. Having children can put you in some really weird situations.

Sue Ellen said...

I wouldn't tell them. Promise. ;)

Crazy Sister said...

Loving this story! And I've been there, with mice. Once your kids find a verminical creature and champion its release, there really isn't much you can do.

Givinya De Elba said...

Once that critter is named, you're done for.

flask said...

you perhaps underestimate the level of interest in your caterpillar.

i;ve been away, but i saw your photos and such while i was catching up on my reading list and dropped everything to actually read and not skim the post and look at the photos.