Of the eight or more caterpillars of the Painted Jezebel (Delias hyparete metarete) feeding on the leaves of the Malayan Mistletoe (Dendrophthoe pentandra), I managed to retrieve only one pupa. As is usual with these caterpillars, they move in different direction to pupate. This is a strategy of not “putting all the eggs in one basket” to ensure at least one or a few survive the pupal stage LINK.
This pupa was monitored seven days later in an effort to catch the magical moment of eclosion. Just before the time of eclosion, the pupa took on a different appearance, most obvious of which were the change in colour and the appearance of wings buds, eyes, etc.
The videocam was set up and the pupa regularly checked. Unfortunately I missed out on the moment but thanks to technology, the video managed to recorded the moment of exclusion – see below.
The butterfly forced its way through the upper portion of the pupal case, using its abdomen and legs to move up the pupal case. Once it got out of the pupal case, it slipped somewhat downwards. Clawing back up, the newly emerged butterfly managed to cling on to the exquisitely beautiful and delicate pupal case.
It then slowly moved up to the stand where the leaf was attached but strong wind blew it down to the ground. That was the moment when I checked on the state of eclosion and found the newly eclosed Painted Jezebel lying helplessly on the ground.
The wings were still damp and somewhat crumpled. The veins were not fully pumped up with blood to make them fully functional. I allowed the butterfly to crawl on to my finger and transferred it to the clamp. There, it remained for the next hour or so before flying off.
The clip above shows another instance of eclosion but fast forward 2x.
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