Newly Molted Caterpillar

Butterfly caterpillars molt four or five times as they grow. Each different caterpillar stage is called an instar.

In the photo below you can see the caterpillar’s crumpled discarded exoskeleton.

Molting Monarch Caterpillar

The caterpillar first grows a new skin under its old skin. Then the caterpillar draws its head out of its head capsule. Occasionally it will need to use its front legs to help remove the head capsule. Next the caterpillar crawls out of its old skin. This is called molting. After the molt and while the new skin is soft and pliable the caterpillar swallows a lot of air, which expands the body. As the new exoskeleton hardens it lets out the air to allow room to grow.

Molting takes a great deal of energy and after each molt, the caterpillar rests quietly for a brief period before then eating its discarded exoskeleton.

About Kim Smith

Currently creating documentary films about the Monarch Butterfly, Black Swallowtail Butterfly, and Gloucester's Feast of St. Joseph. Landscape designer for the Gloucester Harbor Walk Gardens. Designer, lecturer, author, illustrator, photographer. Visit my blog for more information about my landscape and interior design firm- kimsmithdesigns.wordpress.com. Good Morning Gloucester daily contributor. Author/illustrator "Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden"
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4 Responses to Newly Molted Caterpillar

  1. love reigns says:

    Your posts are so beautiful! I just love them.

  2. Anne Lubbers says:

    So do I!

  3. Kim Smith says:

    Thank you love reigns and Anne. That is very sweet of you to write and very encouraging. I feel so very fortunate to be part of the GMG community!

  4. That caterpillar would be very popular down here in Louisiana — those are the colors of the LSU Tigers, LOL!

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