8: Moth and caterpillar house

Now you go to the right, again through a lock, into the moth and caterpillar house. We are also a small zoo here, but unlike real zoos, we don’t have a predator house with lions and other wild animals. We have a caterpillar house with voracious little caterpillars. This house is the “nursery” of butterflies, which also includes caterpillars. Here you can also observe all the other stages of development of the butterflies. But better from the start: After mating, the female butterfly lays eggs the size of a pinhead on her special food plant. After just three to five days, a small caterpillar nibbles its way out of the egg and then eats from the leaf it is sitting on. You all know the story of the “Hardhearted” caterpillar. Imagine that the little caterpillars eat two thousand times their body weight in six weeks. If a baby ate that much, it would weigh the weight of an elephant after six weeks. With so much to eat, it’s no wonder that the caterpillar grows very quickly. She always has to get rid of her caterpillar skin, which doesn’t grow with her, and so she sheds it and sheds her skin. After the last molt, the caterpillar pupates. The transformation into a butterfly now takes place in the well-camouflaged pupa. It usually only takes a few weeks for the butterfly to hatch. If you want to see this with your own eyes, just take a look around the Heinrich and Casimir Bridges. Maybe you can discover the different stages of development. Sometimes here, in addition to the caterpillars and various nocturnal butterflies, you can admire one of the largest moths on earth, the gigantic atlas moth (Attacus atlas), which has a wingspan of up to 30 cm. Like almost all moths, it is active at night and rests during the day. Before pupating, the moth caterpillar spins a cocoon of silk around itself. It can spin a 4 kilometer long thread in 1 1/2 days. The fine silk thread is tear-resistant and protects the caterpillar, which now turns into a butterfly in the cocoon.