1 Jul 2017

New Appearence

While watering my pots a few days ago, I discovered beautiful new guests on another set of plants

Another view of the same individual, with a moulted exoskeleton (slightly out-of-focus) on the centre left

I hurriedly displaced a couple of big ones from the plant. But will hunt for new hatchlings in the days ahead...

26 Jun 2017

Bye-bye Charlie

Postscript Charlie :
Overnight Charlie flew away to freedom in a new avatar

Bye Charlie! The curry leaves will be around, visit again!

The Infestation

I am training a few Devil’s Ivy aka Money Plant (Epipremnum aureum) onto the balcony grille.

For a few days I had noticed small balls of what I thought were caterpillar droppings under the climbing vines but had not been able to locate any pests. I must admit I was casual in my search, as I had never heard of, nor seen Money Plants attacked by caterpillars. Mealy bugs, yes, but caterpillars, never. 

The other evening, I found some more globular caterpillar droppings, this time around a couple of hibiscus pots next to the vines. This triggered a frenetic flashlight search which uncovered unwelcome guests

To my dismay I realized, overnight the ivy vines had been devastated

And, six Hibiscus plants in adjacent pots were also all teeming with the black, hairy munchers, happily chomping away on the leaves

In all, I removed some 25 of these plump, hairy fellows of two different varieties and dropped them off onto the common area garden in the campus.

My only regret was that I could not afford to have them devour my balcony plants to appreciate their subsequent transformation into adulthood

Postscript :
I removed a further 10-odd caterpillars over subsequent nights. 
The Money Plants are gradually recovering from the onslaught, but one Hibiscus appears to have succumbed to the infestation. 
It’s now wait and watch…

14 Mar 2017

Changing Charlie

Charlie pupated 5-days ago, gradually transforming into a green chrysalis

Changes to external appearance have been minimal over the last five days. Here is Charlie this morning 

Charlie will possibly transform into a Common Mormon butterfly ( http://www.ifoundbutterflies.org/sp/603/Papilio-polytes ).

Now to wait patiently and watch...

10 Mar 2017

Charlie is here

Some insect was stripping bare one of my 'curry leaf' plants for the past few days. The dark globular droppings on the floor under the branches were growing larger with every passing day, indicating that the leaves were possibly being devoured by a caterpillar.

But try as i did, i could not locate it.
And then yesterday morning, i discovered my new Charlie...

Charlie is smooth and hairless and extremely well-camouflaged. I could spot it only because the plant had become considerably defoliated over the last few days and Charlie, now a couple of inches in length, was munching away on a stem stripped bare in the foreground. I have never seen this particular variety of caterpillar earlier...

I couldn't spot Charlie on the plant last night. Went looking for it this morning and Charlie was not to be seen. The plant had lost a few additional leaves overnight, but where was Charlie ?

After some looking around, i discovered it on an adjacent hibiscus plant...

It was dormant and had begun to pupate. Clutching the stem with its posterior legs, the free-standing anterior was harnessed by a couple of fine silk threads....