Babies everywhere

300. That is how many little Acronicta hastulifera caterpillars hatched this weekend (click here to see the mother). Actually, there were probably more than 300, but I stopped counting.


Developing eggs, two days before hatching.


Lots of little first instars.


As you can see by the giant holes in some eggs, many of them ate their egg-shells before wandering off.


Babies on their host plant, alder (Alnus). Exploring a bit before settling down to eat.

The big hatching event happened on Sunday. It’s a good thing I came into the lab, because by Monday they would have been dead without food. I then became incredibly nervous that I might not have given them the right host plant, but they have been producing a large amount of frass (poop). Hurray! I get so protective of my caterpillar babies. This is what they look like today:


Frass machines.

They are going to become wonderfully fuzzy caterpillars as they grow. I can’t wait!

Posted on July 2, 2013, in Acronicta, Acronictinae, Invertebrates, Lepidoptera, Noctuidae and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I hope that they don’t wake you up in the middle of the night to ask for a drink of water. Congratulations to a very proud Mom.

  2. Stan Malcolm

    In your spare time, try the book lights for focusing and the Raynox DCR-250 add-on lens on Ben’s desk to get much closer. You can probably skip the reflective panels.

  3. Gorgeous, do you think they all will survive until adulthood or are you counting with some losses?? I know what you mean about being protective – I get like that over my snail babies and leaf insect babies and even superworm babies 🙂

    • Some will be preserved as specimens, but we will try to raise most to adulthood. Not all of them will make it – usually expect considerable losses. If the majority make it through, we consider that great success!

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Ryerson Lab

Functional Morphology, Sensory Biology, Behavior, Biomechanics

I spell it nature

Trying to make sense of the world through science and language.

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