Molasses

Molasses: Dark Treacle.

I have decided to have another go at raising caterpillars.

Raising Treacle wasn’t easy and for a little while I thought that it was going to be a disaster. I made quite a few mistakes. I took late instar caterpillars from the wild and the mortality rate was high and I found that upsetting. Despite those things there were some fantastic moments.

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshellthe biggest thing was how much that I learned in the process.

The thing that I really wanted to do was photograph the miracle transformation from caterpillar to butterfly and in that I failed so I am going to try again.

Dark Treacle:

Aglais io, used to be Inachis io, some people just say “The most beautiful butterfly in the world.”

You know what a Peacock is don’t you?

Peacock ButterflyThe Peacock’s year is a few weeks behind the Small Tortoiseshell and there are still plenty of caterpillars about, that gives us a second chance to get the pictures.

Finding the animals wasn’t difficult, they make these little tents of silk to hide in while they eat the leaves. I don’t know how well the hiding works, I find that the tents rather draw attention to them.

Peacock Web

Peacock Larvae

Peacock LarvaeI am pleased that I have found small animals, I want to avoid the mistakes that I made last time. These haven’t been exposed to the perils of nature for very long.

Peacock LarvaeAs to building a Molasses-arium I am starting off with my old design. The caterpillars won’t wander while they are this small, they will stay happily on the leaves that I give them but I want to avoid the great escape that will come when they are ready to pupate. I think that I will just have to find and buy a purpose built home for them.

For now they have an old planter that I found in the yard with a little tub of soil in it. The greens will need water to stay fresh but you can’t put them in open water, the caterpillars will fall in and drown.

Molasses-ariumIt is no coincidence that both the species that I have kept have Stinging Nettles as their food plant. I am good at identifying Stinging Nettles and I have a ready supply of fresh leaves.

Molasses-ariumSo that is their new home prepared for now.

Molasses-ariumThe Nettles will wilt immediately but they quickly recover and will stay firm and fresh for a couple of days.

The little animals seemed to like their new home and scampered around exploring.

Peacock caterpillars Peacock caterpillarsThis morning I was pleased to see that they had reorganised themselves into a social group and were seriously eating my nettles.

Peacock caterpillars

Peacock caterpillarsThey don’t seem to have built a tent to hide in and they have no protection if I decide to eat them but I have just had a large plate of delicious new potatoes from the farm shop, they are safe for now.

Coming soon: Peacock Butterflies.

Peacock Butterfly

 

 

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