Thursday, September 24, 2009

You've come a long way, baby!

This post is not for the squeamish. If you count yourself among that number, consider yourself warned that there are plenty of photos here which are very explicit and, some may say, downright ugly.
Mrs. Common Mormon may beg to differ on that, though.

Remember her and her tiny pencil-point sized pearl of an egg? Well, it turns out there were 2 of them. That clever lady managed to slip one in without my seeing it!
Well, within 3 days, they had hatched and I found these tiny, scrawny runts the size of an eye-lash, if not smaller, looking totally lost on those curry leaves. I had to go macro to get the photo above.

They really grow when they put their mind (do caterpillars have a mind?) to it. This photo was taken the very next day. See the change in him / her?

Five days later, they were almost as long as the leaf and looking stuffed. This is what I call the bird-poop stage. I think you can see for yourself why. The resemblance is even more striking when seen from a distance.

By the next day Ms. Caterpillar was looking all wrinkly-skinned. I thought she had got some fatal fungal disease or something and was shrivelling away before my eyes.
Ha! No way ... she just wanted a new wardrobe.
Pop a few seams ...

... get into position to wriggle (anyone who's ever tried wriggling out of super-tight skinny jeans should recognise this pose) ...

... wriggle, wriggle
... pop a few more seams ...

... squirm, squirm
... oooh! That's better....

.... almost done...
A final flick of the tail and ...
Haute couture at last!


  1. That was awesome Sunita. They are really eating machines at this stage. Many times we had run out of food for our monarchs, if they were too many we would take them to larger milkweed plants growing wild along the sides of the roads and or in fields. Is there another member of the curry plant family they will feast on? Perhaps if there is, you can plant them and hope that they will leave your curry leaf plants alone(wishful thinking).

  2.'ve done it again! I've never seen such an 'explicit' series!:) Amazing photos! Never seen anything like this before!

    Congrats on your nomination for the Blotanical awards. Wish you the best!

  3. Just excellent! I am so impressed with your ability to capture these creatures with your camera. I'm equally impressed with your writing. You're one of the best...thank you for your words as well as those photos.

  4. Glad to see your caterpillars are doing well. I got a laugh at the jeans reference and could just imagine the little grunts as she squeezed out and into her new wardrobe LOL

  5. Helen,no worries. There are plenty of curry-leaf plants in my bigger garden. It's just a matter of getting them over to my apartment garden.
    But oh wow! they really eat, don't they!

  6. Hi Kanak! I was a bit amazed that I managed to get these photos. I guess I was looking at them at just he right time.
    And that was sweet of you to wish me luck. Thanks!

  7. Thank you so much, Stephanie. You have no idea how it feels when I read such appreciation from a fellow blogger whose posts I enjoy so much :)
    Thank you!

  8. It was so funny, Jessica. It went into this hunched position and even caught onto a stalk to help pull itself out of its tight jeans (or maybe a sheath-dress?). You just gave me an idea. Maybe next time I should try getting a microphone so we'll find out whether caterpillars grunt! ;D

    Thanks, Barbee! I'm glad you liked this post :)

  9. Terrific post!

    And good luck with the awards!

  10. hi,
    do tell me how much time you spent in clicking all those snaps .. I wish i could too..on weekdays the mornings are a mad whirl , cooking, packing the daughter off to school and leavin for work myself!!!I presume that I would have more time during weekends but its worse then. In between somehow I manage to get some gardening done.
    Great going on the gardening and blogging fronts,all the best.

  11. Thanks, Flowergirl, on both counts :)

    If you're talking about the photos in this post, Arundati, hardly any time. Maybe a quick peek in the morning to check they're still there. Again, a couple of times in the afternoon to see if they look any different. By evening when its time for my cup of tea, I check on them again... the pot of curry-leaf is right next to the tap, anyway. At night, when my husband comes home, I have to show off the new babies in the family. And maybe a couple of times in between to click some snaps.
    ... oh! I see what you mean ;D
    No, but seriously, I have 2 gardens (yeah, I know ... I'm a sucker for punishment. But the rewards can be so sweet) of which one is in an apartment. Believe me, it's way easier managing an apartment/balcony garden.
    How old is your daughter? Maybe you could persuade her to join you in the garden and have some quality mom-daughter time.
    Another option would be to have a low-maintenance garden. Grow native plants which are tougher and need less care.

  12. Is this the caterpillar of the swallowtail buterfly? It looks like having some batik designs on its head. This little fella does seem all dressed up!

  13. Autumn Belle, this is the caterpillar of the Common Mormon.
    That is funny ... you're right, it does look like batik, doesn't it?

  14. Wow!!!!!!!!!! Fabulous pictures!!!! Loved this post... I don't find caterpillars ugly, I think they look beautiful!!!

  15. Thanks, IHM! :)
    You're right, the caterpillar of the Common Mormon is quite pretty in its own caterpillar-ish way but some others can look quite terrifying! I have this orange and black fuzzy caterpillar with long horn-like tufts of hair, that regularly devours the wild ipomoeas and I wouldn't go anywhere near it! I think there's a photo somewhere on this blog.
    Keep in mind that its about 100 times more intimidating in real life!

  16. What adventures you have going on in your garden! And now this, the tale of the ugly caterpillar! I love how you weave these goings on in your garden into the most wonderful stories! Keep them coming.

  17. The tale of the Ugly Caterpillar? That's funny, Kamini! :D
    Plenty more stories brewing here . I think it's got something to do with a hyper-active and rather wild imagination (ask my family)!

  18. What a beauty! I can say that because I'm not in the least squeamish when it comes to caterpillars. I really appreciate how you captured the changes in the caterpillar from stage to stage. What a cute little pearl of an egg, too!

  19. Yes, isn't she, Meredith? I cant wait to see her final metamorphosis into a winged butterfly!

  20. Amazing series of photos, Sunita. You have made the whole process very interesting, if not entertaining! ^o^


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