Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Surprise Change of Color

It's not just the leaves that are changing colors 
in my gardens...

Look a little closer...

See that little green caterpillar?

He came from the eggs 
of the Cabbage White Butterfly
that danced in my gardens in September.

Last week he was green, 
blending in beautifully with his lunch plate.

Today he is as crimson as can be!

 Is it something he ate?

 Could it be from the cold?
(Our temps dropped from 70° last week to 39° this week.)

I really have no clue...
do you?


  1. We are what we eat?! a refreshingly quirky post, beautifully illustrated.
    thank you


  2. Interesting! I have heard that caterpillars can change both color and shape before they pupates.... But it's easy to suspect the food! Beautiful pictures!

    Have a nice evening,

  3. We all speak in our blog of the colors of the leaves, and you, you speak about the caterpillars, it's a nice changing.
    Nice post.

  4. Oh, I love a good surprise and this was a good one. The red may be his food, but it also could be additionally, the stage of development. His entering a different instar stage has him growing a new skin under the old skin, then shedding the old. I have a call into Cornell on this one. You got my curiosity up.

  5. Are you sure it is the same cater? Lovely to imagine though how we could all change color from what we eat. I love the image with the butterfly! Very sweet!! ;>)

  6. This caterpillar lives on a potted geranium that sits on a table on my patio. Many weeks ago, I watched as a Cabbage White danced about the pot and lingered for some time on the leaves. (Silly me, I should have checked for eggs.)Last week I discovered the little green caterpillar while taking pics of the blossoms... quick snaps of what still bloomed in my gardens. I actually didn't notice the caterpillar until I began to edit the pictures.
    Always a fun surprise! Fast forward to now, and there he is still chomping away at his tasty meal... much fatter and a much different color. Yes, I'm quite sure it's the same caterpillar.

  7. That's so neat that it's a different color. Very cool.

  8. That's amazing! I think he changes color so he can remain camouflaged against the changing color of the foliage. A wonderful example of adaptation in nature, and I think it was related to the cold temps that also made the foliage turn.

  9. Wow, even your caterpillars are drop dead gorgeous! Red? I guess we are what we eat. I'm looking forward to seeing what he/she turns into. What fun!

  10. How interesting. I have to say though that I have no idea about the change in color.

  11. Dear Meredhuit, How absolutely fascinating. I do not ever recall seeing a red caterpillar, but how wonderfully camouflaged he is against the flowers. Your pictures have captured this brilliantly!

  12. Dear Meredhuit, this is a fascinating puzzle, I'll go with the camoflage thesis - even though I can't spell it! cheers, c

  13. I imagine his mama taught him if you don't match your dinner, you will BE Dinner.

  14. Great photos!
    Back at my country we sometimes saw some red caterpillars munching on the bougainvilleas. my guess is the food.

  15. Well, I think Mr. Caterpillar is lovely in his red attire. It must be due to the food its eating.

    Thanks for leaving a comment at my blog, I am glad I found yours and will be back!


  16. Meredehuit,
    I just got a call back from Cornell and the expert said it could be one of two things making your caterpillar change color. He said, most likely it is in the last instar stage, right before it pupates, but interestingly, he said it could also be a viral infection. He said they turn red for that also, but he would not appear quite as healthy though. I asked about the food and he said that would not be the case. Hope this helps. I was interested too. Donna

  17. What a charming little visitor you have, whether he be green or red!

  18. I enjoyed reading the comments to see what others thought may be the reason for the change of color. My thought had been along the lines of gardenwalk..., that the change probably didn't occur to the current skin, but underneath, then showed after shedding the old skin.

    Isn't it fun seeing surprises when we view the photos we've taken? Nice shots!

  19. Beautiful photographs! I've never seen a red caterpillar. My guess is the food!

  20. This may be completely irrelevant but I've just heard on the news that a nematode has been discovered which crawls inside caterpillars, liquefies their insides to make them digestible - and which turns the caterpillar red during the process. Birds learn to avoid eating these red caterpillars so the nematode is left undisturbed to slurp up its prey. This nematode also attacks other creatures - like larvae under the soil.

    This may, or may not, be why your caterpillar is red - but, when I heard the item on the news, I thought of your post here.



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