Lophocampa maculata - Development Sequence and observations - Lophocampa maculata
Elkton, Douglas County, Oregon, USA
August 22, 2011
08-22-11: Three cats molted since yesterday. One must have finished not too long before I checked them. It looked wet with slicked back setae - more on that one later.
All but two cats were sitting idly on their food. The two sitting yesterday on plum are still there. They were two of the molted cats. The cat that climbed the wall yesterday was the other molt. No plum was eaten since yesterday. Also, no further sugar maple was eaten since yesterday, though one cat is quietly sitting on the sugar maple leaf - perhaps a spot to molt? Only big-leaf maple was eaten.
I believe the runt is dying or dead. It looks smaller than yesterday, more contracted, less supple. Perhaps it was the runt for a reason, and that reason just caught up with it. I'll leave it there another day or two and see what happens.
The largest cat measured 21mm, at rest. The freshly molted cats are all contracted, and look shorter (but fatter) than yesterday, 12mm +/-. Except for the runt, they all look healthy.
About the freshly molted cat, still wet-looking, the following are my observations on Post Molting Behavior:
The top left montage insert shows how I found the cat, looking like a punk-rocker with slicked-back rainbow-colored hair. The black object under its head is the old head-casing. I had wondered why all molted cats left behind one shinny wet-looking pellet-like thing that actually looked like it could be tarry frass. From its placement, it would appear the head-casing comes off last.
I watched for a few minutes. It did nothing, so I gently blew on it. It wiggled a little, and several setae started popping free.
A few moments later, the cat arched its head and tail upward, then started rolling itself in place, first in one direction, then the other. It did this three times, until it finally got its hairdo right - definitely an interesting way to comb out freshly molted bed-head.
And finally, at least presentable enough to answer the phone.
The cat hasn't moved for about 3 ½ hours, though its setae have all now pretty much straightened. I tried to get a view of its head for any color change, but the cat would have none of it. It scrunched itself up and pulled in its head. I thought it best I no longer bother it.
Images of this individual: tag all