Tuesday, March 22, 2011

large yellow underwing ~ 03/22/11 ~ at home

large yellow underwing moth pupa
Noctua pronuba

While I was turning one of my compost bins last week (posted 03/27/11, pics taken 03/22/11), lo and behold I found a little surprise. And, no, it is not a turd. Good thing I didn't slice it with my trowel! Considering I released several dozen caterpillars in this compost bin last fall, I'm fairly sure this is a painted tiger moth pupa. I know, I know, I said I wasn't going to disturb this bin until October or November of 2011. However, the prolific weed of hairy bittercress set seed a month ago in this bin, and I pulled them all out. The pupa measures about 26mm in length and wiggled furiously when I laid a cold plastic ruler next to it. I've since placed the pupa in its own container with soil and pantyhose on top to await to see what emerges. I'm keeping the container outside so as not to falsely speed up the development of this pupa with the warmth of our home. The timing of my observations so far does not match the literature, e.g., W.E. Conner's Tiger Moths and Woolly Bears.

For those new to my blog, here's a timeline of past tiger moth posts with embedded links:
October 17, 2010 - found an adult female laying eggs next to our front door
October 26, 2010 - eggs hatched and I collected the caterpillars
November 6, 2010 - released 2nd instar caterpillars in compost bin

Here are couple things to note: 1) I frequently call caterpillars "cats." Even though I've loved up to 3 kitty cats at one time, usually I'm referencing the insect. 2) I'm actually raising several different Lepidoptera on my balcony right now.

ps 05/25/11 - I posted this originally as a painted tiger moth pupa and now that it emerged on 05/13/11, I have corrected the ID above. To read the new post on this large yellow underwing moth, click here.