Earlier in the year we did some great activities in Junior Landcare centred around eating a rainbow. Now our caterpillar is having its own rainbow from our vegie patch.
I love all the different colours, I planted these 7 years ago and now, after letting them go to seed, they pop up all over the place, a welcome volunteer in our garden.
Caterpillars are hard to identify, I have a great Australian butterfly book, but no moth book to identify them with. Caterpillars have 4 to 6 stages of growth, called "instars", and they can look very different at each stage. Ours has changed very quickly - see it earlier this week http://landcare.blogspot.com/2011/09/our-new-furry-pet.html . I don't think it is an Australian Painted Lady any more, and have spent ages trying to figure out what it might be. I have found this site to be useful http://lepidoptera.butterflyhouse.com.au/arct/arctiidae.html
but it's hard to be conclusive, so many possibilities. I now think it might be a moth, perhaps a type of Tiger Moth, I'm going to add some dirt and debris to our terrarium as moths have different requirements to pupate. I have also sent an email to the Museum of Victoria hoping they may be able to help me with identification. Luckily we haven't had any problems with the hairs of this caterpillar on our skin, as they can cause serious irritation, note to self to be more careful in the future.
We could end up with a crazy pupa that looks like this
(Photo: courtesy of Ken Harris, Morwell Park, Victoria)
We had a less welcome arrival in our patch this week, I found one hovering around my Brassicas, and have spotted those tell tale little eggs under their leaves - gave them a squish. Go away cabbage moth.
A wonderful blog that I have been following is Our Little Acre, she had the most amazing post about the death of a Monarch Butterfly today. I do not want to be reincarnated as a butterfly! http://ourlittleacre.blogspot.com/2011/09/death-of-monarch.html