shed skin hasn’t come off properly…

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  • #13065

    zoe9
    Participant

    Hi everyone.

    Just wondering – one of my small guys had his first skin shedding this morning, however he hasn’t managed to shed it completely and it’s bundled up around his back legs/bottom area.

    He seems fine but I’m a bit concerned as I don’t know if this skin will eventually just come off on it’s own (am hoping so) or whether it’s stuck there and will cause problems for him.

    Should I try to get a hold of it with tweezers and gently ease it off? He’s so tiny though I’m a bit nervous of damaging him.

    Any advise appreciated!

    Thank you

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  • #17280

    zoe9
    Participant

    Thanks Jacqui. I didn’t know that either and would misguidedly ‘rescue’ pillars who were away from the plant by putting them back on it. I only learnt they deliberately leave the plant to shed by reading a post here (I believe from you) a while ago so thank you for that. Now if I see them sitting still away from the plant I just leave them to do their thing. Invaluable information !
    Also it’s interesting to know some can travel 50 metres from the plant to make their chrysalis. I think I read somewhere that some are programmed to stay near the plant and others are programmed to get far away. Not sure if that’s true or not but some certainly seem to be happy to pretty much stay put whereas others are so determined to wriggle away as fast as they can !

    #17274

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    I cringe when I think of all the times I would see a caterpillar “away” from its plant, and pick it up and take it back to the plant. Caterpillars do wander away from their host plant (to foil predators) when they want to shed their skin between instars (stages). Also, when they want to make their chrysalis, they will wander as far away as 50 metres! Maybe more, but I’ve only heard them going up to 50 metres away.

    Between instars they will make a silk pad and sort of “stick themselves down” with silk, and I’m told if you move them at that stage, it’s certain death.

    So well done Zoe!

    Jacqui

    #17262

    zoe9
    Participant

    Ha, thanks Swansong ! Meanwhile I suspect he wasn’t able to shed properly because he was disturbed just prior to starting the process and that was my fault 🙁
    I finally removed the nets from my plants yesterday as I’ve not seen a wasp in days and I only found him on one of them afterwards. He must’ve crawled off the plant and onto it for the shedding. As soon as I put him back on the plant I realised I’d messed up cause he promptly fell off and he started to shed just a few minutes later. So yeah, my fault. Anyhow as it was my fault I felt it was my duty to fix things. Luckily it worked out.

    #17259

    Swansong
    Participant

    Hey great one Zoe!!!!!! Good on you you goer!! +10 and full marks. I will most certainly try your method next time I come across it coz yeah tweezers look far too cumbersone for this job me thinx. : ))))

    Swansong

    #17254

    zoe9
    Participant

    Thank you Jacqui and Swansong for your replies.

    I was thinking he’d probably be fine and it’d just come off as he grew however half an hour after I posted this I went out to check on him and the skin was still stuck around his bottom and he’d resumed eating. This made me worry again because what goes in must come out but I wasn’t sure anything could come out with his skin stuck there,
    so it was time to take action.

    Tweezers were fetched but quickly disregarded as they were just too big. I went back inside to search for another ‘tool’ and returned with a toothpick but this didn’t work either as he promptly crawled onto it and then wiggled up and down it trying to get away from the big monster he thought was after him (err, that’d be me.)

    The tip of the toothpick was too big anyway so with toothpick and caterpillar in one hand I examined the ground where I was sitting and found a tiny twig with an even tinier pointy bit sticking out of it and I finally managed to pin down a bit of the loose skin using the pointy bit. I then held it in place against the toothpick and he crawled out of it. So he’s now free of excess skin – yay ! I put him back on the plant where he quickly started work on another leaf (obviously he can’t have been too traumatised by the whole experince!) so all good.

    Blimey that was hard work though and I don’t fancy having to repeat it in a hurry !

    Thanks again for your help 🙂

    #17253

    Swansong
    Participant

    Hi Zoe, I’ve noticed this happens on the odd occasion, but Ive never tried anything like what you are contemplating. Good on you! Give it a go I say. Indeed let us know how you go. I always like to have 2 pairs of tweezers for delicate jobs. These days my eye sight is not as good as it used to be. I have a pair of reading glasses that my mum has left at my place which are a bit too strong for me. However Ive come up with the idea that they are EXCELLENT for close up work… and I dont have to hold my effective but small magnifying glass, which free’s up my 2 hands. Of course if you had a larger Mag. glass with a handle you might be able to sit it on/wedge it inbetween, something allowing you to work on the pillar underneath, and freeing up your hands..

    Just my 2 cents worth of ideas : )

    Swansong

    #17252

    Jacqui
    Moderator

    Zoe, I suggest you use tweezers and a magnifying glass. Have a go. Although if you don’t succeed, it might well come off as the caterpillar grows.

    Let us know how you get on.

    Jacqui

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