Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Caterpillar Chronicles: Part 3 ~ We Birthed A Butterfly!

An empty shroud.....

"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty." ~ Maya Angelou
Well, it took two weeks, a few days longer than advertised; probably this was due to the lower temperatures in the sunroom. I asked the lady at the botanical garden's butterfly room if this might be a problem. She said I could set the box outside for a bit during the day so I did, but kept it out of the hot sun. She also told us that only one or two eggs out of a thousand would make it through the caterpillar stages into the chrysalis and to a mature adult. Most fall victim to being eaten by spiders or birds at other stages.

Monday, July 5th was just another day. Stephen had arrived and we had much to do, so I set the box out and went about getting ready to go out. I was taking Daisy out for a potty stop before we left and saw this black swallowtail on the outside of the mesh enclosed box. At first I thought it was another butterfly that saw the fennel inside and was stopping to visit, but then I saw the empty chrysalis. How could this have happened so fast? And how did it crawl out through the folded mesh on top?

Drying time... resting from the ordeal.

The brilliantly colored butterfly was quietly sitting or hanging on the mesh, drying the wings. Daisy ignored it as she passed by and the butterfly didn't move. It was a perfect moment to capture the magical painted wings at rest as they usually flit and flutter so as to make it nearly impossible to focus in for a clear close-up shot.

Brilliant colors... may fade with time.

The splashes of yellow, orange and blue on the underwings and the perfectly placed yellow spots on the black body... so different, so unlike the caterpillar that preceded the transformation, yet both so beautiful in their own right. We watched for a while... waiting for that first stretch of the wing... and then...

Testing the wings.... female black swallowtail butterfly
(Papilio polyxenes asterius)
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She opened her wings wide to the sun and kept them there to dry. Yes, a female... she has only a small dusting of yellow above the patches of blue, which are more prominent than those of the male. We left for our errands and when we returned, she was gone... but I think she visits us on occasion. I have seen a female black swallowtail flit up to the glass sunroom doors and hover... perhaps just saying "hello" and "thank you".

As for our butterfly nursery... we already had two more caterpillars munching and growing. They have since interred themselves, both doing so within ten minutes of each other, but not without some drama...(pictures to come later) I also found more eggs and tiny caterpillars and now there are five more working on the dill, fennel and parsley. I guess we are doing our part to increase the population around here. Now, I might have to get a couple of those more sturdy houses.. one for the caterpillars to grow and one for the chrysalides to mature. Perhaps even getting some monarch eggs to try. I have their favorite food... milkweed.. ready and waiting for them, but so far.. no Monarchs.

Previous related posts: What A Difference A Day Makes
The Caterpillar Chronicles: Part 2 ~ And He Has Just Settled Down For A Long Summer's Nap

(end of post)

Friday's Ark


Ginny Hartzler said...

Oh, my, these photos are just amazing, beautiful,I could go on and on! I wonder how it did get out of the net? You could try asking the butterfly lady. I can't wait for more stories and pictures!!

Kathy Seay said...

This butterfly is so beautiful.  Great shots of it.

Beverly said...

Beautiful, SRP, simply beautiful.  Who could see this and not believe in a Creator?

kenju said...

What Beverly said. He is gorgeous and so are your photos!

shangey said...

totaly awesome to have one go through the whole stages. we have these in our yard everynow and then and they are so lovely to watch. this one is truly beautiful.

simplycol said...

To have the chance to witness such a miracle is such a gift.   And to think they are happening around us everyday.   Nature is amazing !