Talking about surprises in the garden, it seems like every day there is something that takes me by surprise. A couple of years ago, i had been working in the garden and getting ready to wrap things up when i spotted this critter on a wall at the opposite end of the garden. "Well, well, well" i thought, "and who are you?" As i approached, this is what i found. I had never seen a caterpillar quite like this one. It was about 3" (7.5cm) long, vibrant green with an orange racing stripe down its back, and the most remarkable design. It would crawl a little bit up the wall and then fall down. I didn't know what plant it had come from or anything else about it, but i had the suspicion that it was getting ready to pupate because it was having a hard time sticking to the wall. The closest plant was an Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens) and I thought this stranger had perhaps grown up there. I put it on the Areca Palm which it accepted without hesitation and started eating a leaf. Okay, first question answered: The Areca was the host plant. I dearly wanted an ID for this unique (to my experience) caterpillar. I did some research, sent a photo to bug expert, and we narrowed the ID down to 2 possibilities: Opsiphanes tamarindi (Heliconia Owlet) or Opsiphanes boisduvalii (Orange Owlet). I did not find photos online of an O. tamarindi caterpillar and the photos of the O. boisduvalii did not show the racing stripe. I asked my bug expert friend what i should do to discover exactly which Opsiphanes it was. His answer was "raise him up and see what he looks like as a butterfly". So i did. I thought he could pupate on the Areca Palm and so i left him there, checking in on him a few times a day. Here it is as a pupa on the Palm. You can see it is stuck to the palm frond stem, head down, at the rear end (up) with the little white ball of silk and spit. One day, i was checking on the pupa and saw a small parasitic wasp attached to its hind end. I tried to brush the wasp off, but it was already stuck there, I pinched it off with my fingernails (I don't know how I managed to do this without injuring the pupa), noticed other small parasitic wasps waiting their turn, ran into the house for a cutting tool, ran back outside and cut the entire stem and frond (with the pupa stuck firmly to it), and ran into the house with the large caterpillar flailing wildly about. I cut off the frond and left enough of the stem so the caterpillar could make a chrysalis. It took awhile for the caterpillar to calm down. In the morning this is what a found... You can see on the top that the chrysalis is not yet closed and that the last of the final shed skin is still partially attached. Soon the top will close and the final shed skin will fall off. I was pleased to see that the chrysalis had formed normally but still worried that parasites may have been injected into the caterpillar and understood the possibility that a butterfly may not emerge, ever. After 15 days, i awoke to find this: One glorious and healthy Orange Owlet butterfly holding on to the empty chrysalis. I took him out to the patio so he would be free to go whenever he was ready. This butterfly does not eat nectar, but feeds on ripe fruits, and other things not so pleasant. I had prepared a plate of cut orange and ripe banana that i took out so he would have something to eat if he chose. Not the most colorful or glamorous of butterflies, but absolutely stunning in his own way. A happy ending for the butterfly, for me, and flapdoodle, and moonhowl. People say butterflies need to eat right away but that has not been my observation, especially with the larger ones. The most important thing is to get the wings flight ready (as this one is doing) and the second most important thing is to find a mate...then they will eat.