Monday, August 3, 2009

Get Ready

Heimlich's had a busy day. After eating a record 12 milkweed leaves in 24 hours, he decided enough was enough. This morning, we found him hanging around near the top of his jar, surrounded by silk threads he had been making. If you look closely, you can see them in this picture.

I don't know if he was practicing or what, but by a few hours later, he had moved to the top of the jar and was working busily to create a tightly woven silken pad, which is circled in red in the picture below:

After working on this for a while, he rested, then laboriously turned himself around and hooked his tail-end feet into the silk pad. Finally, bit by bit, he released his other feet from the fabric on top of the jar until he was hanging upside-down. He curled his body into a "J" and settled in to wait for what comes next.

We've had Heimlich with us for about a week now, and by my estimate, he's about 10 days old. I had expected it to take a few more days before he was ready to pupate, but I guess he knows best.

Over the next 12 - 24 hours, he'll shed his last layer of skin and emerge as a chrysalis. We may not be able to catch this transformation on camera (we do generally sleep at night), but if we can, we'll definitely post those pics.

P.S. We've been referring to Heimlich as a "he", although you can't tell gender in a caterpillar. Once he forms his chrysalis and starts to transform, we'll have a better idea. Any name suggestions if he turns out to be a girl?

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