Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Early Stages of Psyche butterfly

The female butterfly lay eggs singly on the underside of the leaves of host plant. Initially, the egg is in bluish green color and changes to pale yellow when matured. It takes about 3 days to hatch.
Eggs of the Psyche butterfly

The newly hatched first instar caterpillar is very short in length and quite difficult see. Gradually it reaches up to about 3 mm in length. There are long setae with small bubble at end. These setae are located all over the body. First instar caterpillar lasts for about 2.5-3 days.

Second instar caterpillar is quite similar to 1st instar, but with darker colors. It lasts for about 2 days after reaching 5-5.2 mm.
1st and 2nd instar caterpillar of the Psyche
Third instar caterpillar reaches up to about 8-8.5 mm within 2 days. Body of the caterpillar become less transparent than previous instars. The fourth instar caterpillar has appearance similar to third, but with more color depth. This instar ends after about 2-3 days. Body length reaches up to 10-12 mm at the latter stage of this instar.  

3rd and 4th instar caterpillars
Fifth or the final instar caterpillar has initial body length of about 12 mm which reaches about 20-24 mm after 3-3.5 days.
Psyche; 5th instar caterpillars
The final instar caterpillar starts searching for a secure place to form the pupa. It usually chooses petiole or stem of the host plant. The caterpillar forms silk pad and also a silk girdle to support the pupa. The body color becomes light green at pre-pupatory stage. The freshly formed pupa has transparent appearance. 

Fifth instar caterpillar, pre-pupatory stage and newly formed pupae
After 5-7 days of growth of pupa, it is able to observe the development of wing patterns. The pupal skin becomes translucent on the following day. 

Developed pupae
Expansion of the abdominal segments of pupal skin is a sign which says the butterfly is ready to emerge within next 1-2 hours. The pupal case fully disentangle from the wings and the body.

Psyche butterfly emerging from the chrysalis

As the butterfly emerges, the wings are wet and wrinkled.

The freshly emerged butterfly stays for about 1 hour to dry its wings. Then it starts the journey to find a mate and reproduce.

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