A month ago, while watering my window garden, I came across what looked like two lumps of bird droppings on the leaves of my curry plants. Now that was not so unusual, as birds come to my bird feeder all the time and do what they have to do. I thought of cleaning off the plants with water, but then left the task for another day. A good thing too, because when I checked a few days later, the “droppings” had disappeared and two green caterpillars seemed to unblinkingly staring back at me.
Ecstatic, since I thought I would be able to watch them develop into a pupa and finally a beautiful butterfly, I watched and observed them every time I went near the window. And every single time they seemed to be eating. Just a few days back, I had been thrilled to see my curry plant flowering. It had a wonderful bunch of small greenish white flowers. But now the caterpillars were feasting on the flowers and I could easily see that not one flower would be left in a day or two. I sighed and let them continue, for the plant would flower again but I did not know when a butterfly would lay eggs on my plant again.
Day and night whenever I checked, they would appear to be sleeping and keeping still for a while, but invariably in sometime, one of them would start eating again. Two or three days passed and then one day suddenly when I checked, one of the caterpillars was missing. I checked under the leaves to see if it had started forming a pupa, but it had simply disappeared. Mynahs and crows do visit the bird feeders and so it could have been the lunch for any of them. I hoped the other one would be safe and would grow to become a butterfly, but I guess it was too much of a temptation for the birds. The very next day, I was away for work somewhere and when I asked my husband to check on the other caterpillar; he reported that it was gone. So that was it.
I guess I will have to wait for another time to watch the wonderful metamorphosis again. But in the meanwhile I am sharing pictures and videos of the eating machines that I did manage to capture in the short period that they spent on my plant. I had identified them to be caterpillars of the Common Mormon going by the pictures. But later, I found out that caterpillars of the Lime Butterfly, (Papilio demoleus) also look similar and while I had not spotted a Common Mormon about, I did see Lime Butterflies flitting about nearby.
And what of the plant? The flowers were all eaten up, but plants apparently have amazing regenerating powers! The top half which had become bare of leaves and flowers soon started sprouting tiny leaves again.
Here are a couple of videos of the greedy eating machines!