Wilding Treacle

The big news today has been butterflies emerging in my flat and the process of letting them go.

Small Tortoiseshell Small Tortoiseshell Small Tortoiseshell Small TortoiseshellBut let me just explain why butterflies are emerging in my flat for readers who have just joined us.

Some time ago I decided it would be a good idea to take some caterpillars from the wild and hopefully photograph their transformation into butterflies.

Finding willing subjects was easy enough.

Small Tortoiseshell LarvaI named my caterpillar Treacle but in truth Treacle wasn’t a single animal, he had body doubles (Like in the “Lassie” films)

TreacleI built him a home that I called the Treacle-arium.

Treacle-ariumSomewhere along the line things went pear shaped. The first four animals all died. They had been attacked by parasitoid flies before being taken from the wild. I had seen these animals in action.

ParasitoidI believe that the mistake that I had made was in taking late instar caterpillars, I had wanted quick results. Those caterpillars had spent their whole lives exposed to the dangers of the wild. I restocked with a dozen tiny subjects.

I stopped writing about Treacle’s progress because I was concerned by the high fatality rate and thought that I might have to write this story from a different angle than I had intended but the little ones did okay.

One night they staged a mass break out, when I checked them in the morning they were all gone. I thought that they wanted that vaulting horse for exercise but they were really digging a tunnel. I recovered three chrysalis’s and I didn’t know what had happened to the others.

I was very pleased to find a butterfly in the kitchen this morning. It was not from one of my chrysalis’s, the second one was. I am left with two and I still intend to do my best to photograph this miracle of emergence.

Come on, I will show you the world.

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell

It is time to let go little animal.

I like a happy ending and it is not quite ended yet.

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