On one common lemon tree in my yard — and I have raised many, never wanting to be short of lemons — I have discovered a busy metropolis of green creatures.
This bejewelled and banded, spotted and spiked emerald caterpillar is one of about a similar six that I could easily see — the inquisitive bristling head of another is just visible to the lower left of the beauty on full display.
Plenty of evidence of leaf munching, and plenty more leaves to munch. Other caterpillars looked less relaxed, and a couple were arching, perhaps getting ready to change from the butterfly larva it really is, to the next stage, the pupa.
A few years ago I had photographed a similar knobbly green pupa or cocoon on another ‘proper’ lemon tree in my orchard and my web visitors had identified it for me as that of the Orchard Butterfly. But I never saw it hatch, or the Butterfly.
You can see the fine ‘silk’ attaching it to the stem — and what great camouflage!
Coincidentally, while circling this tree looking for more butterfly life cycle evidence, I found my tiny New Year frog again. This lemon is right next to the hydrangea where I saw him then, so it could be the same Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog.
And then, on the same damp day, but on a different and very non-citrus tree, I was lucky enough to spot the Orchard Butterfly herself — big and boldly patterned and very still, perhaps drying those gorgeous wings.
It’s interesting that all the three stages of the life cycle are present at once. Is this usual?