Lophocampa maculata - Development Sequence and observations - Lophocampa maculata
Elkton, Douglas County, Oregon, USA
September 2, 2011
08-28-11: Another night of good eating. Again much of the big-leaf maple was consumed. The plum was untouched. No one seems to have lengthened, but they do appear a bit fattened - some cats now actually look like they'll have enough bulk to turn into a moth.
Everyone looked lethargic today. Only one cat moved when I cleaned their container. When I reloaded their food, that cat promptly crawled under a leaf and hunkered down. Everyone else ignored me, including the three cats hugging the wall, one of which has been there going on three days. It seems if they're not eating or napping between meals, they're molting.
Still lightly misting their environment every day. Also adding a freshly washed, damp leaf, for anyone who needs a quick drink. Most times, at least one cat comes over to "explore" the damp leaf, sometimes several.
08-29-11: Doesn't appear to have been much activity overnight. Some cats ate a bit from the maple, but nothing from the plum. Of the three cats hugging the wall, the one that's been there 3 days has molted, probably an hour or so before I checked on them. My guess is the other two will shortly follow suit.
At the moment, everyone looks peaceful. Didn't want to disturb their tranquility, so I didn't take measurements.
08-30-11: One of the two cats hugging the wall molted. The other will probably do the same by tomorrow. The rest of the cats were just sitting around.
A fair amount of big-leaf maple was consumed. Though I add fresh plum every day, no plum was touched. I now give each plum and maple leaf a light misting before adding it to the container. Some cats explore the plum, drinking the water droplets as they go, but I'm certain they only pay attention to the plum because of the water. After cleaning their container and adding a few misted leaves, several cats woke right up and appeared rather thirsty.
Measurement wise, as I've come to expect, they're all over the chart. Following the usual molting behavior, the just molted cat against the wall is all scrunched up. Scrunched, it measures 20mm. Except for the two largest cats, the others measure 22 to 25mm. The two largest cats measure 28mm at rest. One started walking around, looking for the water; it stretched to 38mm. After having its fill, it settled in, contracting back to 30mm.
I find it interesting that since they switched their diet to big-leaf maple, they've increased their growth rate so dramatically. I wonder if they'd have grown as quickly if I'd kept them just on plum - an experiment for next year.
08-31-11: Another cat molted. I checked on them last night at 8:00PM, and must have missed the molt by no more than 10 minutes. I'm still hoping to get pictures of a molt in progress.
This morning everyone is just sitting around, doing their usual daytime nothing. About 20% of a four inch plum leaf was eaten. Very little, if any, big-leaf maple was eaten. There was very little frass.
A few cats seem a little fluffier/fatter, but no one really looks longer - they all seem to be posing in scrunch mode.
Color-wise, they seem mostly the same, orange to red/orange. Predominant yellow is mostly gone. There are a few cosmetic differences, most noticeable along the back - spots or stripe-like markings that are artifacts of the way the dorsal setae present themselves. I'm curious to see if they all look the same after their final molt.
09-01-11: It seems almost a daily event; another cat molted. The molt was completed before I got up. There's one other cat now hugging the wall - whenever a cat is on the wall to molt, they always do so with their heads pointing down, I assume for easier exiting of the old skin. One large cat is exploring. The rest appeared to be napping.
They had another good night of eating and frassing. No plum was eaten, only big-leaf maple. After cleaning their container and giving them fresh, misted leaves (leaves cats are sitting on get returned to the container), three cats came to investigate. All three appeared to be sipping from the leaves.
Measured one cat while it sipped on the wet leaf - 32mm. Another cat sitting on a dry leaf measured 30mm. One exploring cat measured 35mm. Two cats measured 25 and 28mm. The littlest cat measured 22mm at rest. The freshly molted cat was all scrunched up. Based on how bulky it looks, my guess would be it's about 28 to 30mm when at normal rest.
I assume maculata pupate in September and emerge in May. It's now the beginning of September . . . .
09-02-11: Another cat molted; came out very fat-looking (left column, center). And yet another cat has climbed the wall. The rest are sitting idle.
They're still eating and frassing well. Both big-leaf maple and plum were consumed, but much more maple than plum. I've noticed on occasion one cat sitting on plum leaves. I've been wondering if it's always the same cat and that it might still have a preference for plum.
Cleaning their container didn't activate any cats, though adding misted leaves did wake up two. One went right away to the maple and sipped its way across the leaf. The other was the cat on plum. I misted a plum leaf and it chose the misted plum over the misted maple.
Not wanting to disturb them more than necessary, I didn't measure anyone today.
I did, however, closely examine the photos. At 100%, it's quite interesting how their dorsal patterns look. The differences are rather distinct and fascinating - some have no spots, others have from one to five spots, some spots are the result of setae that are colored all the way to the root, other's spots are a result of color in the hair-tips. The orange/red to yellow/orange abdomen (some gaining a light touch of brown) is another noticeable difference. You'd think they'd all look the same, but some are so different, you'd think they were adopted.
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