Friday, 17 September 2010

Life Cycle of the Three-spot Grass Yellow (Eurema blanda)

Apologies for the long delay in posting. This time though, I have the entire life cycle of the Common three-spot yellow butterfly (Eurema blanda) in photographs.

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The female lays large clutches of eggs on the host plant.

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The host plant in this case was the Cassia fistula or the Golden Shower Tree.

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The eggs hatch within a week. Sometimes in as few as 3 days.

All eggs hatch one after the other and soon after the caterpillars feed on what is left of the egg-shell.

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They usually remain on the leaf on which they hatch on and begin to feed on it.

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This species lay so many eggs because the caterpillars appear to be highly edible and are easily picked off by birds and other predators. More numbers give it a better chance of propagating its species.

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The caterpillar undergoes several successive moults as it grows older, shedding its old skin for new ones. It picks up more colour as new moults happen.

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Soon, it is time to pupate and the caterpillar stops feeding and  becomes restless as looks for a suitable location where it will pupate.

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In this case it has chose a nylon twine on which to pupate. Pupation may also occur on plants and dried twigs.

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The caterpillar then attach├ęs its posterior end to the twine via an apparatus called the cremaster,

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It also spins a web around itself to create a saddle on which it hangs.

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Once set in this position, the caterpillar’s head splits open and the pupa begins to emerge.

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It sheds its old skin with a wriggling motion, exposing the soft pupal form within.

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Once fully emerged, the pupa waits with minimal movement ……….

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…as its skin slowly but surely hardens.

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The colour too changes over 24 hours ass it loses the transparent form to become more opaque.

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The colour continues to change over the entire pupal period which may last more than a week and just before it hatches, the black of its upper forewing will show through the pupal case to give the pupa a black and yellow colour.

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The pupa then splits open to reveal the image, as it crawls out with folded wings.

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The imago then discharges a droplet which is called the meconium. This is its metabolic waste that has accumulated during the pupal stage.

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The imago then spreads its wings by pumping its blood into the wings.

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as the wings straighten and harden, the butterfly takes on the beautiful shape that we all know and love.

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Soon it is a fully formed adult that is ready to fly off and feed .

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It soon finds a mate and mates with it….the female is then ready to find its host plant, where it will lay its eggs and begin the whole life cycle again.

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