Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Final Caterpillar Transformation : Grey Moth

If you caught my previous posts about the 3 green-turned-grey/brown caterpillars which I found during garden cleanup in late October or early November (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly : Brown Caterpillar and Caterpillar Transformation), then this is the happy ending to the story.

By the beginning of December, each of the 3 caterpillars had transformed into a chrysalis, and I sent 2 of them to school, to my daughter's Grade 2 classroom, to share the experience with the whole class. By the last week of school before Christmas break, I was beginning to wonder if I'd need to bring them back home. But then it happened. Dec 21, I woke to see a grey moth sitting out beside my broken chrysalis. Mine had a gimpy wing (see photo right), for no obvious reason.

The next day, Dec 22, which was the last day of class before the holidays, the class arrived to 2 moths, and set them free in the school grounds. What good timing! Although I had hoped for butterflies, or something a bit more colourful, it was rewarding to get this small glimpse into the wonder which occurs all around us everyday, often unnoticed.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

So did you find out what kind of caterpillar it was.

Anita Gould said...

Aha! That's a Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba). Thank you!! The moths are abundant here (suburban central New Jersey), and I have seen the caterpillars too, but was never able to put 2 and 2 together until I saw your post.

Nurse said...

Thank you SO MUCH for documenting this. For the past month a caterpillar has been visiting my home (I keep putting it back outdoors but he somehow keeps crawling in!) and all of my searches were in vain until I tried the simple "smooth brown caterpillar" in google and discovered your blog! I am just so excited to finally know what species it is!

Thorns and Roses said...

thank you. I found a similar caterpillar and I thought i orginally had a pieras rapae but mine also turned brown. I was slightly disappointed because I was needing a specific type of caterpillar (pieras rapae) for an ecology experiment. I was having trouble identifying this caterpillar until I saw your post and it was the exact caterpillar I have!! thank you again!!

Garden Lily said...

Thank you all for posting, and I'm glad my curiosity turned out to be useful. I also used to think that the smooth caterpillars turned into butterflies, and the fuzzy ones into moths. This one proved me wrong.

I remember seeing the pieras rapae (cabbage butterfly) often when I was a child, but don't see them as often anymore. Perhaps since my mom had a big vegetable garden, whereas I generally don't have veggies, only perennial flowers and some herbs. I understand from my reading that the cabbage butterfly caterpillars feed on cabbage and radishes and turnips and such, so that may explain their lack of interest in my garden. Oh well, I prefer a swallowtail butterfly any day.

Lisa said...

Thanks for your post. My daughter just found the exact same caterpillar and we weren't able to match it on Google images either- she was disappointed to see that it becomes a brown moth, until she read "yellow underwing" and so she hopes to see it transform into something with a bit of yellow! (:
We live in BC, Canada.

Garden Lily said...

Lisa - Unfortunately, your daughter may be disappointed, since I don't believe this is the Large Yellow Underwing. I don't have an identity for the one I found, but it is a common moth in the Vancouver, BC area, and I don't believe there are any bright colours on it. I have a feeling it is pretty difficult to ID a moth or caterpillar from a photo, since there are many which look similar. So best just to wait & find out, and hope it's an interesting one. All the best.

samantha galloway said...

I have those same brown cattipilars in my back yard, last year i hade my veggy garden overtaken by them, if they didnt eat all my plants they prevent anything from growing. i am going to try and do my garden again this year and want to prevent my plants from them. what can i do ?

Earthygurl said...

I just found a small green caterpillar from my aloe plant. I decided to feed it in a jar(breathable) and see what happens. My niece loves caterpillars, so i am going to have her help me feed it. Which will teach her more about caterpillars.
Thanks for your blog. I am interested to read more :)

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