I returned to work after a two-day hiatus, and was greeted with an exciting buzz over cocoon couture in our Ecogarden! Well I’ll be! This workplace continues to throw up surprises!

Insect enthusiast and science educator, Li Hui filled me in on the details… Over the last few days, a mini truckload of Atlas Moth caterpillars were sighted in our great outdoors (a.k.a. Ecogarden exhibition) on our Camphor Tree, right alongside the leaf litter area.

Atlas Caterpillar, Source: Li Hui

The Camphor Tree must have been a host plant for the voracious caterpillars because it looked just about decimated when I sighted it! But it did seem to don a new ‘couture’. Decked with cocoons (misshapen tea bags) hanging from just about every bough, this little tree looked pretty ghostly in its lush green surroundings.

On closer inspection, there were yet a few stragglers that had yet to pupate, scavenging for the three or four remnant leaves that were intact but growing scarcer by the minute!  My colleagues and I snapped quite a few shots. I thought I’d share a few of them so you don’t think I made all this up after getting a bit balmy on my first day back to work!

The wriggly Atlas  felons are known to pig out—gorging on as much greenery as possible—and growing up to 15cm long before they pupate. When they hatch, they emerge into behemoth creatures with a wingspan of up to 30cm across. Interestingly, they don’t eat in their two-week life-span as adults and have only one thing on their minds—to find mates and make babies. What a life!  
Science Educators-Mei Bao and Shu Yi at the Camphor Tree which is decked with cocoons

Many thanks to Li Hui for generously contributing these amazing pictures.

Posted by:Thomas Danny Jeyaseelan

I've been working for over 7 years at Science Centre Singapore... a place I've come to call "home" where science befriends and transforms me day by day! I love communications and this blog has given me a terrific opportunity to express myself in writing. I continually aspire to engage the community through my contributions. And would love to hear back from readers like you if you have something interesting to share (please leave a comment!). That would really encourage me! Am also looking forward to hitting the centennial mark with 100 posts. Am nearly 70% there. ;) I hope you have a great online experience on Stir-fried Science, enjoy all science has to offer, and be inspired to make or be the difference you wish to see in the communities you find yourself in.

5 replies on “Spotting a Cocoon Retreat

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