Autumn Leaf butterfly: 1. Caterpillars feeding

In mid-December 2015, Maryann Vitudio brought a bunch of the creeping Common Asystasia, also known as Coromandel (Asystasia gangetica, previously known as A. coromandeliana) with about a dozen Autumn Leaf (Doleschallia bisaltide) caterpillars actively feeding on the leaves.

The caterpillars are colourful with their white-black-orange colours coupled with tinges of blue. Together with the many spiky projections, they appear threatening (top). Indeed, these are warning colours and birds generally leave them alone.

Once you get used to their appearance, they can be rather endearing. Check out the video above as they move around feeding on their food plant, the Common Asystasia.

Most of these caterpillars were in their final instar and about to pupate. They were wandering around the plants restlessly, not being able to move away as the pot was in a basin of water (video above).

Two caterpillars disappeared one afternoon, making me speculate that despite their warning colouring and spiky projections, some birds ate them up. That was until I found one pupating under a chair (above), with its mass of discarded old skin lying on the floor beneath (below).

So the caterpillars did manage to cross the water barrier. I suspect they moved to the table surface as the branch they were feeding on bent downwards due to their weight and touched the table surface.

YC Wee & Maryann Vitudio
Singapore
January 2016

One Response

  1. […] A few of the mid-December 2015 Autumn Leaf (Doleschallia bisaltide) caterpillars, courtesy of Maryann Vitudio, showed signs of pupating within days. They were moving up and down the stems of Common Asystasia (Asystasia gangetica) grown in potted soil placed in a basin of water. They even wandered around the rim of the pot – see HERE […]

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