1. Oz molted and is now a chrysalid! I missed the grand transformation this morning - Oz was looking all shrivelly and grey and I knew today would be the day, but expected the molt to take hours. At 7:55ish AM he was a pale caterpillary looking thing. At 8:35 AM I looked again and there was his skin in a heap on the ground, and a chrysalis hung from the stick!
His sibling, Billy Joe (named for Green Day front man), has settled in on the roof of the habitat and will probably shed his (or her) skin tonight or tomorrow morning.
I've been reading about metamorphosis in general and Lepidoptera metamorphosis in particular. Amazing stuff. I am particularly interested in the way that the caterpillar undergoes major cell death (apoptosis), during which many of its internal structures are eliminated. The 'net isn't a perfect place for research and the various sites, created by biologists or hobbyists, differ in their description of what structures are left behind. From what I'm piecing together, it would seem that at least some neural tissue is spared (albeit reorganized during the change), possibly some vasculature and musculature, and a series of imaginal discs which become the wings, legs, antennae, and other structures of the adult.
2. You may have noticed that the photos above have greater clarity and magnification than my previous 'pillar pics. My new lens arrived and I'm in love! (side note: isn't it ridiculous how when UPS has a package that requires signature, they call to tell you that they'll be coming...between the hours of 8 AM and 7 PM? Good grief!)
I wandered the back yard with my camera this evening. The light isn't great and I didn't use a tripod, so these aren't perfect, but I'm psyched about what this lens can do that my old zoom can't. All photos are uncropped originals except the crop of the Japanese beetle.
Basil in my porch planters / Basil the gnome, who lives under the same
Japanese beetle and crop of the same - horrible pests, I'm kissing my roses goodbye until Sept/Oct, but goodness, are these bugs ever gorgeous
I also took a series of pics of a dead/mummified frog that I found on our front walk. It's a bit gruesome so I'm not posting them here where people might be taken unawares, but if you're a geek like me and want to see, you can head to my Photobucket account to see them: 1, 2, 3, 4.