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Death's Head Chrysalis

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Old Friday 8th February 2019, 23:46   #1
Britseye
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Death's Head Chrysalis

I've been in possession of a Death's Head caterpillar, later chrysalis, since October last year. I have it in an ice-cream tub sitting on a bed of soil, in a darkened cupboard above the oven. I was advised to keep it moist, but not so moist a fungus develops, throughout the chrysalis stage and I have been doing just that by sprinkling a little water on to it and the surrounding soil every 7-10 days. I have no experience of any sort of moth/butterfly at this stage of its life cycle; and I mistakenly thought that the thing would be a solid immovable case, yet it twitches each time I sprinkle it, so I know it's still alive.

I'm a little concerned that it will have been in this case for too long by the time it would normally have hatched out, since even here in relatively mild Scilly, it hardly compares with North African temperatures at this time of year? I'm thinking towards the end of this month, if I see a 10-day warmer spell on the horizon, I might get it out on the window sill and encourage it to speed up its metabolism for an emergence? On the basis it probably won't survive long enough to successfully breed anyway, I thought at least it might be nice to see it as an adult?

I wonder if anybody has any thoughts, and in particular if anyone could advise on the signs that it may be thinking of 'coming out', as it were? I may be imagining things, but I thought it was beginning to look a little more translucent recently?
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Old Monday 11th February 2019, 11:34   #2
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In the absence of advice, I've gone and stuck him, her, it on the windowsill in the sunshine since it looks like a week of milder weather.
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Old Monday 11th February 2019, 12:07   #3
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Under 'normal' conditions, Death's Head hawkmoths don't emerge in the UK as they succumb to the slightest frost.

Normally, when a moth is about to emerge, you can see the wing colours developing through the translucent wing-cases. That doesn't seem to be the case with your pupa.

There are probably lots of factors that affect when, or if, a moth emerges (temperature, humidity, day length, etc.) and some species are notorius for surviving for several years in the pupal stage before emerging.

What you intend doing may work but make sure that there is a substantial stick in the container for the moth to climb up, or ir may not fully expand its wings. Humidity at this time is important.

Hope this helps a little.
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Old Monday 11th February 2019, 18:24   #4
Britseye
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Quote:
Originally Posted by honeym View Post
Under 'normal' conditions, Death's Head hawkmoths don't emerge in the UK as they succumb to the slightest frost.

Normally, when a moth is about to emerge, you can see the wing colours developing through the translucent wing-cases. That doesn't seem to be the case with your pupa.

There are probably lots of factors that affect when, or if, a moth emerges (temperature, humidity, day length, etc.) and some species are notorius for surviving for several years in the pupal stage before emerging.

What you intend doing may work but make sure that there is a substantial stick in the container for the moth to climb up, or ir may not fully expand its wings. Humidity at this time is important.

Hope this helps a little.
Thanks, Martin (it is Martin, isn't it? I seem to recall from previous posts? Apologies if not)

The little feller/gal has had its afternoon on the warm windowsill next to a bread dough I also left there to rise in the sun! Now back in the cupboard above the oven. I took a few photos which I'll upload tomorrow when I get round to reducing the file size. I had a very close look at it and I'm pretty sure I can see the outline of the antennae forming inside the case?
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Old Tuesday 12th February 2019, 14:20   #5
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Here's the pupa in question attached.
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Old Tuesday 12th February 2019, 19:29   #6
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Still find nature amazing....let's hope it emerges into a wonderful beautiful adult on "The Fortunate Isles".
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