Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Early Stages of Common Leopard

The larva of Leopard butterfly usually feeds on immature to middle age leaves of host plant.

The female butterfly lays eggs on the immature leaves or young shoots of host plant. It takes about 2-3 days to hatch. The newly hatched caterpillar eats its egg shell as the first meal. It (which is not shown here), is having a black head capsule and yellowish body. Initially its body length is around 1.5 mm which increases up to 3- 3.2 mm before moulting to 2nd instar. It takes about 2 days for 1st instar caterpillar to reach the second instar. 

2nd and 3rd instar caterpillars of Leopard butterfly

The 2nd instar caterpillar (as shown above) has pale orange/ brown base color. The head capsule of 2nd instar caterpillar is having a white spot on it. The body length reaches up to around 6- 6.5 mm, when it is ready to moult to next instar. Time gap between 2nd to 3rd instar is usually 1- 1.5 days.
The 3rd instar caterpillar is darker than previous instars with more prominent processes. There is a orange margin along the top of head capsule. The 3rd instar lasts 2 days after reaching its body length to about 12-13 mm.

fourth instar caterpillar
Fourth instar caterpillar is having a dark orange/ brown base color with black processes. The processes are longer than 3rd instar. After about 2 days, it moults to final instar. Before moulting, the body length is about 16 mm.

Final instar caterpillar

Fifth instar caterpillar
Initially the final instar caterpillar has a darker orange/ brown base than the 4th instar. The 5th instar lasts for 2-3 days. Its color gradually changes to greenish yellow on last few hours before pre-pupatory stage.
The caterpillar to wander restlessly to find a better spot to form the pupae. It usually chooses underside of a mature leaf and form silk pad.

In the next day morning, the pupation takes place. Pupa hangs from the silk pad. The base color is yellowish green, red tipped tubercles with silver base and silver patches.

Pupae of Leopard butterfly
After about 5-6 days development, the pupal skin becomes translucent. The development of leopard like markings on the wings is starting from about 12 hours prior to emerge. 

Images of the final stage of pupal case development

On the next day, the leopard-like markings and pattern on forewing becomes clearly visible through the pupal case.

Stretching of the pupal case can be observed just before emerging as shown in above.

A Leopard Butterfly emerges from its pupal case 

It takes around 10-15 minutes to make the wings being fully opened.

After resting for about 1 hours to dry its wings, the butterfly starts its life journey

Comparison of the eye at different stages of the butterfly

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