Contortion...

Before pupating, the caterpillar has to attach itself to some sort of surface, such as a twig, or, if at all possible, the side of a cardboard box, the shaft of a crowbar, or the inside surface of a yogurt container.

The attachment takes the form of a silk spot-weld at the tail end, and a harness-like support thread, also of silk, at the head end.

Making and getting into the harness is the tricky part. It appears to start with the caterpillar reaching waaaay over to the side and back, and spinning out some silk onto the surface of whatever it is attaching itself to.

The caterpillar, still spinning silk, then starts to rotate its head over to the other side...

The idea is to get the silk strand to stay well behind the head during the rotation, since the thread has to end up several segments back from the head.

Then do the same thing back the other way...

Then repeat many times to build up the thickness and strength of the harness strand.

Then rest, and gradually assume the J-shape. You can see that the caterpillar has done a pretty good job of coating the rest of the surface of the twig with a layer of silk as well...good insurance against harness detachment, presumably.

Here's another caterpillar already in the J-shape, showing both attachment points. Another is here.

When the caterpillar sheds its skin for the last time as it pupates, how does the skin get past, or out from under, the harness? Here's how.

Home

Home
The condo, nursery, bassinet, and pupa pad...
Tools...
Time for chow...
Beware store-bought food!
The preferred foods...
Convergence...
Eggs!
Hatching and Newborn...
Reasoning with a youngster...
Odd coloration...
Pumpkerpillars...
Twins... A tiny wasp larva intervenes...
Don't toss out that drowned cat!
Silk...
Frass...
Something there is in a fennel plant that loves a caterpillar egg...
Cats can be a handful... Applying low voltage...
Molting--shedding the skin and head capsule...
Time to roam...
Contortion...spinning the silken harness
It's pupating where??
What is that weird thing?!
Dunno--that pupa looks sort of dead...
No harness? Stop worrying...
Emergence...
The butterfly...
Girl or Boy?
The fabulous flying machine...
Full Span...
The antennae...
The proboscis...
Close-up...
Home Feeding...
Lifespan Timeline...