Lifecycle

At the beginning of March we purchased a small rosemary plant from the fresh-herb section of a local supermarket. My intention was to use it as part of a still life I was putting together with coloured spices.
But when we got home we discovered this little chap chomping his way through the plant. We named him Karl ( it seemed appropriate at the time! )

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Not sure what to do with Karl – and whether it would be safe to release him in our own garden ( after all, we had no idea where the rosemary plant had originated from ) – I put the plant and its passenger into a small fish tank that I had ( no water, of course! ).
After about 4 days – somewhere around the 7th of March, Karl crawled into a corner and spun himself what I believe is called a chrysallis – very hairy, about an inch long and attached to the side of the tank with strands of silk-like material.

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Nothing seemed to happen for several days and I feared that we had lost Karl. On the 15th we were due to fly out to Florida for two weeks ( you may have seen some of the pictures from that trip in my earlier posts ). I had read that this next stage in progressing from caterpillar to moth or butterfly could take between two weeks and two years, depending on Karl’s identity. ( We had tried to ascertain this through more knowledgeable friends, but to no avail. ) So, just in case Karl was actually doing something – and not just decomposing inside his hairy chrysallis – we left him a small bowl of water ( in case he got thirsty after he ‘hatched’ ), packed our bags and departed for Florida.

On the 30th of March on our return, Karl had transformed into this creature. I think it’s a moth!

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Initially he was immobile on the floor of the tank and once again I was ready to mourn his leaving. But then he started to move, albeit slowly and never when we were watching him, around the tank.
As I type this he is now on one of the tank sides, completely immobile and unfazed by my photographing him with a D800 and wireless triggered flash unit.
But I also suspect that we should have called him Karla – because he appears to be laying eggs – those three white globes near the bottom of the picture.

If you know what type of moth Karla is, I would be glad to hear from you. If you can confirm that he is an indigenous variety I would be happy to put him in the garden, open the tank and let nature take its course.
I can’t believe that any of those eggs are fertile – but then I know nothing of Karla’s life cycle! Is he/she hermaphroditic? Does Karla not need a mate?

Watch this space!

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