Saturday, August 22, 2009


It really is incredible to think that after two short weeks in a chrysalis a caterpillar transforms itself into a butterfly! Amazing really- think how handy that skill might be for us mere humans....

My Swallowtail adventures are coming to a close. My many chrysalides have dwindled in numbers as day after day butterflies emerge. Our first gal showed up on Wednesday morning two weeks ago. I promptly named her Tuesday (clearly I did not had enough coffee and was confused). Tuesday was followed by a butterfly a day until Sunday, when three emerged. We named them Sunday, Sunday and Sunday.

Since then we have had butterflies everyday, except two. They almost always emerge in the morning, although we did have one tardy fellow come out after dark. He was our sixth butterfly that day. He was named Saturday just like his siblings Saturday, Saturday Saturday.. well you get the picture.

As the transformation nears completion the chrysalides start to turn from an opaque green or brown to a translucent covering. You can see the wing pattern through the sides. Keeping my camera handy I was able to get a few shots of this guy just as he started crawling out.

They look a bit scary when they first emerge as their wings are all scrunched up. If you ever raise caterpillar or take care of a chrysalis it is important for the newly emerged butterfly to have something vertical to climb on. They like the underside of inclined sticks the best. This position helps them as they pump fluid from their swollen thoraxes to their wings to help them unfurl. The fluid and gravity do the trick in about 2 short minutes. Sadly, we had a couple of tragedies. Without gravity their wings become a floppy mess and they start to shred as they try to crawl around. I had read somewhere that the kindest way to put a butterfly out of it's misery was to put it in the freezer. That was a sad task I performed twice:(

While their wings are unfurling and drying they amuse themselves with their proboscis. They uncurl it and recurl it, over and over. It's really pretty cute and I can just imagine what they are thinking. "Wow, this butterfly thing is pretty cool but what in the world is stuck to my face?!"

These butterflies are all my babies. They are Eastern Swallowtails and I captured their photos with my new digital SLR:).

With about 10 chrysalides left, I have to say I'm about over it for this year.

I have one monarch butterfly caterpillar that I brought inside and he should be about ready to form his chrysalis soon and then my caterpillar days will be over this year. Every time I see a Swallowtail in the yard I know it's Monday or some other day of the week saying hello to me!


Lenore said...

What wonderful photos and information...really enjoyed your post.

ODD imagination said...

So Cool! What a wonderful view of life! Your photos are gorgeous too.

Anonymous said...

Awesome transformations - too bad us humans can't do that.