I was busy watering my lemon tree yesterday and I realized that there were lots of little cocoons on the bottoms of the leaves. I call them cocoons but my boys said they thought that they are a kind of chrysalis. I have never taken the time to learn the difference so it sounded like a good time to take out the Handbook of Nature Study.
"The pupa of a butterfly is called a chrysalis."
"Many larvae, especially among the moths, weave about themselves a covering of silk which serves to protect them from their enemies and the weather during the helpless pupa period. This silken covering is called a cocoon."
"After the larva has attained its full growth it changes its skin and its form, and becomes a pupa."
Handbook of Nature Study, page 296
So I am thinking now that the boys were right and this is a chrysallis of some sort of butterfly. I have no idea what kind but we are going to bring one in and watch its development.
Here is some more info I found online.
- A cocoon is a covering made of silk that encloses a pupa, and a chrysalis is the pupa of a butterfly. The chrysalis is covered in a hard, chitnous shell.
- Note the difference: A cocoon is a covering of a pupa, and a chrysalis is a particular kind of pupa, usually with no enclosing cocoon.
- Inside a cocoon, you will often find a pupa of a moth or other insect with an inner chitinous shell, but it is not called a chrysalis unless it is the pupa of a butterfly. The pupae of some insects have visible external body structures, such as wings and legs, as they develop, while others (such as moths) have a smooth outer shell that encloses the developing structures.
- I learned a lot this morning after taking just about five minutes to look up the information in the Handbook.
EDIT: Someone left me a comment and identified this creature. It is a cottony scale insect. If you follow the link you will indeed find out that this is a female in the immobile stage.
"Adult female scales are almost always immobile (aside from mealybugs) and permanently attached to the plant they have parasitized. They secrete a waxy coating for defense; this coating causes them to resemble reptilian scales or fish scales, hence the name."
That clears that up and shows you just how much I know about insects in general. I am continually learning.