You may have noticed that I found a Puss moth caterpillar in the garden this afternoon - and it was clearly looking for somewhere suitable to form its cocoon.
I've had a little experience in raising moths from larvae (and cocoons) over the years, some recent examples being a couple of elephant hawk moths, a poplar hawk moth and a sallow kitten (see my photos below taken 8 years ago now, at our old house, the first "Swift Half").
Different moth larvae need different conditions and substrates on (in) which they spin their cocoons but I do know (from raising my sallow kitten above) that puss moths need a nice bit of wood and bark to spin their cocoon on (or in). Puss moths are quite like large sallow kittens, in that they form very hard (rock hard!) cocoons on wood, in which they overwinter - in all conditions.
Anyway - I gave this afternoon's puss moth caterpillar a nice bit of 'barky' wood and wondered if it would start spinning.
Within a couple of minutes.
I shot the first video on my phone below at around 16:30 and the seventh at around 18:30. Each clip is about 15 seconds long.
OK... all those clips were taken over a period of about 2 hours this afternoon/evening ... I'll not take any more now... but I will edit this post tomorrow morning (or tomorrow sometime anyway) to pop up a photo here of the finished and hardened cocoon.
PHOTOS of finished cocoon (taken at 08:00 the following morning)
The plan is to let the cocoon harden over the weekend and then nail the bit of wood (on which the caterpillar has formed its cocoon) under the shelter of our chicken run tomorrow (out of the worst of the winter weather and the summer sun).
I know. I know. I'm good to our moths aren't I?
Truth be told... I'm still a big kid at heart and find all this metamorphosis stuff absolutely fascinating!
Plus it also gives me a great excuse to actually SHOW our boy the process which he first read about as a toddler, in "The Very Hungry caterpillar".
As soon as he came home from school yesterday, I asked him "What do caterpillars do before they become butterflies?"
He immediately said: "Eat loads, form a cocoon then turn into a beeeeauuuutiful butterfly!" (A succinct distillation of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar").
I said: "Yep. That's right. Now... do you want to SEE a caterpillar forming a cocoon right now - in our shed?!"
He got very excited and said: "YEEEEEAAAAAAH".
So I showed him (had to lift him up to see... as the caterpillar was on a shelf in the shed) and he actually FARTED with excitement!
I'll leave you with that mental picture, I think!