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Lappet Moth Chrysalis

Unidentified Lasiocampidae

Description:

This spotting of a Lappet Moth Chrysalis is a follow-up on https://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/13...... which was about a large congregation of caterpillars on the bark of a tree, in our backyard. The chrysalis, in the photo, is the only one I saw today, but there are many more to come. It is suspended from a branch, a few feet away from the group and I think it would probably be safe to assume that the whole group will disperse for pupation. I don't think that they could successfully pupate on the vertical surface they are on, (see photo in previous spotting). The chrysalis in the photo is suspended on a very elaborate silk structure, rather like an upside-down pyramid. It is obviously quite strong, but I saw that it allowed freedom of movement in the wind. The structure looks like it will provide a climbing frame for the emerging moth to hang on while its wings stiffen for flight. I think that the entire group will have to disperse and move out from the trunk, onto branches to enable them to be suspended like the one shown here, but only time will tell and I will try to get some pictures to complete the story.

Habitat:

This Chrysalis was spotted in our backyard on a Black plum tree (Syzygium cumini) known as Lomboi in this part of the Philippines. Plant info. - http://www.stuartxchange.org/Duhat.html

Notes:

This moth, in my backyard, seemed to be taking rather too long to emerge from its chrysalis and I was becoming concerned that I might be checking (daily) on an empty pupal case from which the moth could have already eclosed. It was actually worse than that. I decided to take a closer look and climbed up a ladder. I shone a light from the back of the chrysalis and had a look at it from the front, hoping to see something of the developing moth. But it looked empty and I thought I could see the light shining through a hole on the other side. So, determined to find out, I re-positioned my ladder on the other side of the branch and went up again, the second photo (which I have added to this spotting) reveals everything. There is, as can clearly be seen, a gaping hole in the case and I could see what I think was an ant moving around inside. This is not a hole made by the moth to emerge from. Moths and butterflies always emerge from the top or the bottom of their chrysalis, never the middle and the hole is too small for a moth to pass through. So, it looks like the moth was killed and consumed by some other creature. Not the ending I was hoping for, but there are still hundreds of pupae somewhere up on this tree and I still hope to see some moths in the next day or two which will, hopefully, help me to identify this difficult moth.

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5 Comments

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta 3 months ago

Oh! This is one of those situations where I would love to have been wrong. But hoping the others emerge safely. Thanks so much for the update, John.

John B.
John B. 3 months ago

It seems that you were right, Sukanya, when you pointed out the dangers of a chrysalis hanging in such an exposed position. This time, the culprit was not a bird, but an insect - possibly a wasp or maybe some ants. However, all is not lost. There are many more pupae up in that tree and I am hopeful of seeing some moths soon.

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta 3 months ago

Your tuppence is actually quite valuable...more like a Pound sterling. :)
I have seen the lily moth caterpillars go underground...and the butterfly cats I wrote about were green on green leaves...so very valid observations ...each that you made
I had not thought about the stinging hairs...Hmm, good idea, that one. Always great to exchange thoughts with you...thanks so much.

John B.
John B. 3 months ago

Yes, you're right. Sukanya. Your "stray thought" does, indeed, pose an important question which, for me, has become a bit of a conundrum. I have not come across any scientific information dealing with it. If I could throw in my "tuppence worth", as someone that I admire once said to me, it would be something like this. Caterpillars (moths or butterflies) can try to improve their chances of survival by camouflage. Obviously, a green larva on a green leaf might go unnoticed, compared to a black one on a yellow leaf. Some larvae prefer to hide by staying on the underside of leaves and so on...the mass of larvae shown in https://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/13...... might be an attempt to look like one very big creature. The "camouflage" idea probably has some merit, but what happens to all of this good sense when these creatures pupate. I know that some make underground cells, in which to pupate, but most seem to just hang out, in full view of predators. That seems to be foolhardy, unless there is something else at work. Is it possible that the pupa in this spotting has some poisonous qualities, left over from the urticating hairs of the larva? If that is the case, predators might have second thoughts about what to have for supper. Please forgive my naive rambling. If I do come across anything more scientific, I will let you know.

SukanyaDatta
SukanyaDatta 3 months ago

Just a stray thought...hanging free like that...isn't it an invitation to birds? I ask because about 10-15 butterfly caterpillars (different stages...some had even pupated) on my Currypatta plant (Murraya koenigii) were wiped out in one evening!

John B.
Spotted by
John B.

Spotted on Jan 5, 2024
Submitted on Jan 5, 2024

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