Sunday, January 18, 2009

Catepillar Photoshoot - Euploea core or Common Crow Butterfly

It started with my dad waking me up early morning saying that there was something interesting in the garden which was apt for a photo shoot...Now people who live away from home will know how satisfying the sleep in your old bed feels like, so naturally I was reluctant to get out of bed.

15 minutes later (come on, it was a cold Jan morning, so it took time to come out), I was standing in front of a potted plant in our garden with sleepy eyes. My dad told me that this plant was missing leaves for a few days now, and he was surprised as this plant was normally not attacked by the usual pests which attack the other plants in our garden. He then showed me the 'culprit’. It was a long caterpillar which was happily devouring the leaves one by one.
(Click on the pictures to see full size)

Now i am not exaggerating when i say devouring because that’s what it was precisely should have seen the speed with which he ate...In proportional ratio, if he where my size, he would have beaten me hands down, or shall we say 'legs' down...

So i took out my camera and a chair, and started clicking...Taking pics was difficult as I didn’t have a prime lens with me. To those unfamiliar with SLR cameras, these are inexpensive lenses which effortlessly focus on a single object while blurring the background. This makes close up shots a walk in the park...

The way he went about eating was simple. He will go from branch to branch to look for the fresh young green leaves. Then he will get under them and nibble at the point connecting the leave with the stem...(It reminded me of Kalidas tale of cutting the same branch on which he sat). Well, the caterpillar did this till he had chewed through half of the stem and the leave was hanging down. Then he will stop this and start eating the leave from the bottom to top...This he will finish in 10/15 minutes and then move in search of the next leave.

Next day morning when I checked the plant, he was hanging upside down under a older dark leave which was not in his normal menu...I gently blew at him to check if he was alive and he immediately curled up as if cursing me for the disturbance... I suspected that he may be starting to enter the next stage of Pupa. I had to go to church at that time. So I was back after 1.5 hours at the same location and he had turned into a Pupa ! That 4 cm long fat caterpillar of yesterday had turned into a pupa shell hardly 1cm long. The shell was wet and light in colour and looked bit transparent. So i started the 2nd photo shoot. That evening when i checked him out, his shell had turned into a beautiful shiny golden colour and looked like a drop of molten gold that had solidified...Unfortunately I couldn’t stay back to see him come out which takes around 2 weeks as I had to get back to work.

Later that day i was reading online on this transformation of pupa(Chrysalis) to butterfly and saw a picture of the same kind of catepillar that i had in my garden ! Further search provided the valuable information - the caterpillar was of the common crow butterfly. It was so satisfying to be able to know what exactly one was clicking all this time...

On that’s what I call one fine satisfying photo shoot !

I added the pics i took into the gallery section of this butterfly in wikipedia . Check out the pics in the end with the location as thiruvananthapuram,kerala.