Since my last update (yes I know it was ages ago now) I have been lucky enough to have a number of Emperor moth caterpillars (Saturnia pavonia) to look after and observe. This spectacular moth is fairly common over much of Britain. I had a few of these once before, but managed to allow them to escape at pupation time. They wandered off into the garden somewhere, never to be seen again.
This time around I ensured they were secure and got them through to pupation in quite large numbers. The emperor caterpillar overwinters as a pupa and should emerge in April or May the following year, although I have read they can sometimes take 2 years. I am hoping for a mixture of male and female as they are both impressive looking moths.
Not much to add and so I will just let the pictures do the talking. You will see just how much they change as they continue to moult, and how varied they can be. It is in fact the very reason caterpillars can be tricky to identify, changing with each moult as they do.
|I was convinced this one was drinking the water...|
|Freshly moulted for the first time...|
|Final instar and moult...|
|Early stage cocoon.|
|A completed cocoon.|