Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Black Beauties

Last week I gave a brief explanation of Black Swallowtail caterpillars.  If you missed it you can catch up here.  This post is all about the chrysalis and emerging butterfly.

I really did think I had a video of the caterpillar forming the chrysalis, but I just can't find it so pictures will have to do.  

When you think of a caterpillar forming a chrysalis, you might picture it hanging upside down to start.  Black Swallowtails don't do that.  They start by forming a "button" of silk that attaches their rear to the stick, or whatever, and then creating a sling that they wrap around themselves at the top.

Ready to form chrysalis

I made this picture big so you can see how they appear suspended from the stem they are on.  The silk "sling" is hard to capture on camera, but it's there supporting the fat, curved part of the caterpillar's body.  And at the very bottom is more of that same material sticking it to the stem.

From this point it takes less than 24 hours for the chrysalis to form.  It starts with the splitting of the skin behind the head, then down the back.  The chrysalis has an unusual shape, with the head end having points that make it look like an alien to me.


 has a great sequential photo display that shows the caterpillar forming the chrysalis.  (You can check it out here.)

I don't remember how long it took for our butterflies to emerge, but I know it was a few weeks.  When the finally emerge from the chrysalis their wings are wet, and they can't fly.  You shouldn't touch them at this point because they are more fragile than the butterflies you see fluttering around your garden.
Just emerged
 We took ours out into the sun so it could dry a little faster.

Butterfly Earring?


Happy Fluttering!


No comments:

Post a Comment