Sunday, 8 October 2017

Best caterpillars ever?

I have been busy rearing things and making silk all summer, but also I think I have found my very favourite caterpillar of all.  Its Antherina suraka, the Madagascan Bullseye Silkmoth or Emperor Moth.  They start off looking fairly average for a caterpillar, and then as they get bigger, they start looking a bit more unusual.

 As they grow and shed their skins, they all look similar until one day when they have a skin change,

lo and behold, suddenly there are all these different colour forms of the caterpillar, from bright green through to velvety black, and what about those pink spines.  How can you not love these gorgeous creatures.

As they get ready to pupate, they turn darker - I just love the beautiful dark blue-green of this one that is just starting to spin up its cocoon.

And then, before you know it, you have a whole batch of caterpillars all spinning their cocoons and getting ready to change.

The cocoons end up a bit thicker than these ones, but not a lot.  Its not a huge mass of fibre to work with.  They are reared in northern Madagascar to produce fabric, but not from spinning the cocoons.  The fabric is made by opening up and flattening the cocoons, then sewing them together.  I can't imagine it would wash particularly well, and it must be a bit stiff with the glue still there.  I decided to go a different route and spin these cocoons, but first the moths need to emerge.

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