Here it is getting acquainted with Roxy's arm.
Soon after we returned to the city, the caterpillar started weaving a cocoon. In three days it produced enough silky thread to clothe the people of China! Finally, the cocoon was ready and the caterpillar disappeared from the view behind the fuzzy walls.
This is all we could see from outside.
Here's the pupa which we discovered later inside the cocoon.
In this motionless state the caterpillar spent the entire winter. So that the conditions would be close to natural, we kept it out on a balcony - where the temperature was below freezing. If I didn't have a balcony, I would have to put it in the fridge.
In April, we brought it back inside and I warned everyone to keep an eye on it - it was time for it to come back to life. Whatever was hiding inside the cocoon was ready to emerge from it any minute.
Sure enough, on April 3rd Roxy called me at work and told me that there is a moth with folded wings sitting on the cocoon. Just as we expected, the monster caterpillar turned into the largest moth in Europe - a Giant Emperor (otherwise known as Giant Peacock) Moth. It was a female, with not-too-large antennae and a very large belly.
Here she is - a headshot. Fuzzy, isn't she?
It took a while for the wings to unfold completely. For several hours the moth was sitting motionless and upside down, letting the blood flow through the little veins inside the wings. We took advantage of it and shot as many pictures of it as we could.
Here is a perfect example of protective coloring - with wings folded as they are the moth resembles a face of a large animal. Stay away!
Finally, the wings spread out and the moth was getting ready to fly. The only problem- she was in the middle of a big city, and all other moths of the same kind were 50 kilometers away, in a river gorge by Garni village. I am sure she would have no problem flying that far if only she knew she should - but she wouldn't know. Besides, there are too many dangers for such a large moth in an urban setting.