Most of our many-legged friends have now reached over an inch in length, have turned dozens of milkweed leaves into a considerable amount of body fat, and have developed a bright black and yellow stripe pattern. And, as of this morning, our first caterpillar has begun the process of pupation!
When butterfly larvae, a.k.a. caterpillars, have finished growing they spin a small silk button on top of their container. Then they hang upside down from the button in a J-shape and prepare to molt to the chrysalis. The caterpillars expand until their skin splits and reveals a green cuticle, which then hardens into the chrysalis, or cocoon. In a room temperature setting, it takes approximately two weeks for the butterflies to emerge from the cocoons.
Now, we need to carefully remove the caterpillars from the terrarium and place them in special nets made for chrysalises and emerging butterflies.