Saturday, October 17, 2015
I Goofed, Red Spotted Purple Update
Posing the question of when I should put this one in the fridge to over winter, I learned I should have done that a week ago when it was in the third instar. Apparently that is the instar that they go into hibernation. Unlike species who spend winter in the chrysalis stage, the number of hours in the day when the sun is shining as well as the temperature determine whether or not they should hibernate or move on to further instars and adulthood.
Speaking to its host plant for a moment. The little crabapples have turned orange and the birds are already eagerly pecking away at them. Lots of the leaves are now covered in damaged fruits as well a surprising amount of bird droppings. I wonder if actually having real bird crap around makes the disguise this caterpillar produces more or less convincing.
There are likely two or tree more Red Spotted Purple caterpillars on the tree, but as they're likely just in their third instar, I'll have to wait until the leaves fall off of the tree to look for them. My understanding is the "shed" they make by rolling a leaf around them with silk does not fall off of the host plant. If I find a few, I'll be sure to collect and store in my fridge until the tree leafs out and flowers the next year.