Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Monkey Puzzle Pupa Emerging

Its been ages since my last post and I apologise for that once again. However, do expect posting to remain sporadic as I now have a job and have moved to city limits, with little time or access to wildlife and nature. However, I do have an accumulated backlog of images which I will try to post regularly. This is one such post.

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I have posted earlier about the attractive Monkey Puzzle butterfly. Since I first saw the butterfly with its larva on the Ixora plant, I have been trying to catch its pupation and emergence. Although I haven’t succeeded with the first bit, I have been able to catch the latter half – the emergence of the imago from its pupa.

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The pupation lasted more than a week with the pupa attached to the underside of the leaf of the host-plant.

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The pupa is attached to the leaf by means of its cremaster at its tail end as well as a suspension loop, which is a nylon thread drawn over and across its dorsal side.

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During the many hours I waited for the pupa to emerge, the only interruptions in its motionless stance was an odd visit by an inquisitive ant!

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Finally, almost rapidly, the pupa broke open and the butterfly started to emerge with a real sense of urgency.

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Once the anterior end was split open, the butterfly head popped through along with its feet.

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The Imago then pulled itself free off its pupal casing using its feet and started to ascend the stem of the Ixora plant.

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This is in contrast to the Grass-yellow butterfly, in which the imago rested on or near the pupal casing.

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Even as the imago crawled upwards, blood appeared to be pumped into its wings, allowing them to be stretched open.

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It continued to ascend upwards, perhaps to reach a more airy location in order to catch the breeze to allow its soft body parts to harden.

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The Imago then stopped on a leaf tip and further began to expand its crumpled wings.

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The expansion process is slow and is barely noticeable. However, you can see the difference in successive photographs.

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When the wings were almost fully unfurled, it proceeded to move further upwards…

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…and found a favourable, concealed location where it rested for nearly an hour sitting upside down before abruptly flying off to start its life as an adult butterfly.

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