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Photo#586464
Lophocampa maculata - Development Sequence and observations - Lophocampa maculata

Lophocampa maculata - Development Sequence and observations - Lophocampa maculata
Elkton, Douglas County, Oregon, USA
September 28, 2011
9-24-11: When I first checked the two remaining cats, they were about ½ container apart. When I finally got to taking their pictures, one cat had meandered to the corner, and the other cat came to investigate, both coming to rest on the same piece of maple. Cleaning their container didn't motivate them to move. At first, they did a bit of munching, but that soon turned into their usual,"If we just sit here and do nothing, maybe he'll go away." So, no new walkabout today, yet.

Considering there's only two cats in the container, I'm surprised how much big-leaf maple was eaten, and frass produced. - you'd almost think there was at least another pair in there. Plum was not touched. I was curious if the hearty eating is a precursor to walkabout. But now I see the precursor is stopping eating.

09-25-11: Shortly after finishing yesterday's notes, the one-spotted cat moved to the other end of the container atop a fresh maple leaf and just sat there the rest of the day. The multi-spotted cat stayed where it was and ate about 1/4 of the small leaf segment they had been sitting on. By 6:00 PM, the multi-spotted cat had wandered under the maple leaf the one-spot was sitting on. It's still there, hanging upside down. From the looks of the leaf, it hasn't eaten since relocating itself. Still sitting atop the leaf, overnight the one-spotted cat ate a bit of big-leaf maple. Eating and frassing have slowed down dramatically since yesterday. Since plum was again not touched, I'm now only providing big-leaf maple.

Cleaning their container seems to have woken up the one-spot. It munched a little, wandered to the end of the leaf then returned to where it started. The multi-spot is still just hanging out under the leaf. (Exciting status, isn't it?)

To add a little spice to today's report, I decided to measure them. In their current state of slinky-ness, one-spot is 38mm, multi-spot is 40mm.

09-26-11: One-spot is still sitting atop the same maple leaf as yesterday. Multi-spot is still under the leaf. Both cats are just sitting there. Cleaning their container didn't stir them. Petting them with my finger didn't stir the multi-spot, other than an initial twitch. The one spot also twitched, then began a slow maneuvering over the leaf. It settled close to the multi-spot and started munching. The munching seemed to have awoken the multi-spot, and it too now looks to be eating.

Multi-spots' spots don't seem as prominent as they used to.

Eating has picked up a bit. Between them they ate about 1/4 of an 8 inch big-leaf maple leaf.

I guess I was wrong about all cats being pupated by the end of the week.

09-27-11: The past 24 hours have been rather uneventful. Both cats meandered around a bit. This morning, however, things were back to normal. The multi-spotted cat returned to its perch under the maple leaf, and the one-spot found another random place to sit. Cleaning their container seems to have aroused the one-spot, and it started wandering, but not far. It's now sitting on the inside curl of a maple leaf, doing mild, lazy body-bends to the right and left.

Just before breaking for lunch, I noticed a cat wandering about the container - a slow meander, pausing every now and then for a little head-bobbing. When I returned from lunch, the cat appeared to be in full walkabout. It's the multi-spotted cat. I gave it its own container, where it's now happily doing the typical bob and search of walkabout.

The one spot is now sitting motionless under the curled maple.

Since last night, it appears there was no eating, though there was some frassing. Perhaps they were emptying themselves before their final venture.

An interesting aside: I noticed in today's photos the multi-spot is obviously scrunched up. Normally, when just sitting there, the cats are relaxed and somewhat loosely stretched, or at least not tightly compacted. If memory serves, scrunching is the position a cat takes before embarking on walkabout. (And as a followup, I checked some of the past status pictures, and in at least two I explicitly remembered, the cat that was scrunched was the next to pupate.) It may be an inaccurate statement to make, but I believe the actual first stage of pupation (after no more eating) is this scrunching and frass elimination, followed by walkabout where chemicals are released and churned into the system, accompanied by head-bobbing to stimulate the head silk glands, and then, finally, maneuvering to a good spot and building the cocoon. I've also started thinking, since there's always a bit of setae being shed during walkabout, that the action also loosens the hairs so they may be more easily plucked and utilized in cocoon building.

If the cat doesn't start construction too late, I'll try for an additional pupation sequence.

09-28-11: The multi-spotted cat started walkabout yesterday, approximately 1:00 PM. It was still on walkabout when I went to bed at midnight. When I checked this morning at 8:30 AM, it was nestled in its completed cocoon. Since it takes approximately 4 hours for a maculata to spin its cocoon, the latest it would have started was 4:30 AM, therefore, this walkabout duration was somewhere between 11 and 15.5 hours. The multi-spot cat will now be called CC6.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, one-spot started its walkabout last night, about 6:00 PM. It was still engaged in walkabout when I checked at 8:30 AM, but it wasn't a frisky walkabout. I got the feeling it was looking in earnest for a place to pupate, but it couldn't find exactly the right spot. I then noticed the maple leaves were both underside up. For feeding, it didn't matter how I presented the leaves, but for pupation, I always placed the leaves top side up, so the leaf stem would hold the leaf up, thereby allowing the cat to crawl underneath. All the other cats had pupated upside down on the underside of the leaf, so I turned the leaves over - underside down with the leaf stem supporting the leaf, creating ample crawlspace. Within minutes, one-spot nestled in on the underside of a leaf. It's been motionless ever since. I suspect by this evening I will have CC7. I'll try to get another pupation sequence.

As I would suspect, there was no eating - I've gathered my last big-leaf maple and plum leaves of the year. I found only one piece of frass in the container.

Images of this individual: tag all
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Wow...
what a great series of photos!

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