Dasychira mendosa caterpillar on Pomegranate tree

Dasychira mendosa caterpillar on Pomegranate tree
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I found a large number of hairy caterpillars on a Pomegranate tree at Kolenchery, Kerala on 7/8/2019. There were also a few pupa.
I decided to take one home and rear it.

I was sure it was a Tussock Moth caterpillar as I noticed the tufts of hair, or tussocks on it’s back. The clumps of bristles give these the appearance of a toothbrush. As I spotted it on the pomegranate tree, I just had to narrow down pomegranate pests and I identified it as the Brown tussock moth larva or Dasychira mendosa.


I’ve also brought two pupa home.

I placed the pupa carefully on a twig inside a plastic container. I’ll observe them the following days in hopes of it to hatch into the moths.

My only concern in rearing this caterpillar is the lack of pomegranate trees near where I live. I’ve placed some mango leaves in a container for it to feed on, as I read these are also pests to Mangifera indica.
Reference:

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Great @Akshitha
Looking forward to your further updates on this… :+1:

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9/9/2019 - The caterpillar has begun spinning it’s cocoon :smile:

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10/9/2019 - The cocoon is complete :partying_face:
I was shocked to see red ants surrounding the cocoon. I expected it to be harmful for the cocoon.
@Rohan tells me that each butterfly species is associated with a particular species of Ant. The association is described as Myrmecophilous association. The ants are called “attendant ants”. The ants guard the larva and pupa by driving away parasitic wasps and predatory flies, by spraying formic acid and displaying their strong claws. In return, the ants are rewarded with food in the form of a thick sugary liquid from the larva or the pupa. This is in other words, a give and take relationship between the two. It is called Mutualism.
Reference: Ant – Cocoon Connection | Cocoon Articles and Butterfly Life Cycle

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Wowww…!!!
This is amazing @Akshitha @Rohan
Never thought about it in this way…

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Looking forward to the next update! Do observe the ants when the cocoon is about to complete it’s development.

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Woahhhh!!! Amazing indeed :star_struck: eagerly waiting for the updates :yum:

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