A very exciting day! Murray has begun the pupation process. This afternoon (8-12-10), Murray worked his way slowly up to the highest part of his habitat which is the twig that I placed spanning the jar opening. He had stopped eating earlier in the day after two days of pigging out.
At about 5 pm on Thursday, he became quite stationary clinging to the underside of the twig after an hour of what I can only describe as head bobbing. Sometime between then and about midnight he began the process of spinning out the button from which he will attach to the twig.
You can see that he is still holding on to the twig with his legs. This will soon change when the silk button is strong enough to allow the caterpillar to extend his body downward into the typical “J” shape prior to forming the pupa. Murray will hang in the J position for about one full day. Then his skin will shed for the last time.
The initial pupa will be soft for about one hour and then harden into the typical green color. I hope I can catch this process (unlikely but I will try). Roughly 10-14 days from the time the pupa forms, Murray will emerge as an adult (estimated between August 23 and August 28).
I feel like an expectant father!
This photo was taken at about 12:15 am on 8-13-10. It clearly shows the beginning stage of silk button formation from his posterior (hind) end. Please excuse the poor quality of the image – it was taken through the mesh that covers the jar. I was not willing to risk removing it so as not to disturb the button making process. If the caterpillar is disconnected at this stage it is very unlikely it will re-connect.