Sunday, June 05, 2011

From Caterpillar to Chrysalis

...



Last summer, we noticed interesting caterpillars in our garden. We looked them up in our butterfly book, and concluded that they were Anise Swallowtails. We took a lot of photos of them, and observed their growth.

And then something came along and ate them.

So this year, I fashioned a protected habitat for the caterpillars. It was fascinating to watch them grow and change. Notice the spikes on this hungry fellow?




This was the final form that the caterpillars took. No more spikes.




Over the past few days, the caterpillars spun silken "climbing harnesses" and attached themselves to branches that we'd provided. They hung like this for a couple of days, and I naturally concluded that they were dead.

I was also sure that I had killed one, when I accidentally touched it. I just knew that I had crushed all of its internal organs. (There's a good reason that I never had kids.)




When we weren't looking (of course!) they shed their skins. The chrysalis sure doesn't look like much does it? Just a dead dry leaf. Nothing to eat here, Mister Predator. Please move along.

We understand that the butterflies might hatch out in as few as ten days. I hope that it happens when we're at home, so that we can see it.

If you want to read much more about raising these beautiful animals, click here.

19 comments:

Alli said...

Great job! We've never been lucky enough to see a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis. We always seem to just miss it. It's still pretty amazing!

Kay/The Little Foxes said...

My daughter loves caterpillars - and lots of other bugs (but goes into hysterical freakouts when she sees a spider - go figure). Two years ago she had captured a caterpillar (aka callipitter, she still calls them) in a bug box, and it was doing well, eating it's leaves, etc. One morning I noticed it hanging in a weird position near the top of the bug box - it wasn't moving, looked kind of shriveled up, and I just assumed we had murdered it in some way. But just in case, I set it on the back of the kitchen counter. Three days later it became a pretty little butterfly!!! (An Admiral.)
So I said all that to say that if our guy can survived being "loved" by a (then) 6 year old, I'm sure you did no damage by merely touching one of your "callipitters" ;-) Looking forward to the rest of the story!!

http://westvistaurbanfarmschool.blogspot.com/ said...

Great photos. Cool that you fostered them.

Nataline said...

Whoo hoo!!! So exciting! Hope you are there to take photos when they emerge!

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

How exciting! I can't wait to see them emerge!

Eliza @ Appalachian Feet said...

Awesome! We love raising these and other caterpillars, too. One of my favorites was a hummingbird clearwing moth we found as a caterpillar (or the time luna moths hatched out all over the house).

Christine said...

Ummm, webcam?! Please?

Dirty Girl Gardening said...

you're so lucky they are gorgeous!!!

Deborah at Kilbourne Grove said...

What amazing photos! I am looking forward to seeing them emerge.

Jennifer Caleshu said...

We're raising a swallowtail caterpillar right now too! They are amazing how fast they grow - and how much they poop! And I love that you can actually hear them chomp their fennel - crunch cruch.

Judy S. said...

Fun! Hope you've read Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar!

LKW said...

Your photos of anise swallowtails are great -- love the caterpillar progression.

We have black, tiger, spicebush, pipevine, and zebra swallowtails as our common swallowtails - all with different host plants.

Black swallowtails eat fennel here and look a lot like the anise swallowtails. Enjoy!

DariceMoore said...

Swallowtails are gorgeous. I hope you can see emerge!

We raised monarchs (in a screen cage) and it was wonderful to watch them emerge. Plus I think we actually increased the local population exponentially with our four adults monarchs -- outdoor caterpillars didn't seem to stick around long. :(

camissonia said...

Beautiful. What plant material were they feasting on, btw?

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Alli: I've been staring at the cage, willing the butterflies to emerge. So far, nothin'.

Kay: I rather love that you left the dead-looking thing in the kitchen, just in case.

West Vista: Have you done this? It's easy and I'm still finding caterpillars. Perhaps you could find some on a patch of wild fennel.

Nataline: I'm not holding my breath. I expect that they'll emerge when I'm in the shower or out buying dental floss, or something.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Clare: I thought you might like this.

Eliza: One story in our family's mythology was about the zillions of preying mantises that hatched in my grandmother's fine linen drawer. And then there's the story of the dead songbirds in the freezer. The apple doesn't fall very far from the tree, in my family.

Christine: that webcam would be about as exciting as watching paint dry.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Jennifer: Since I can't actually see then diminish the leaves that they're munching on, it is rather astonishing how much they poop.

Judy: Would you believe that I've never read this book?

LKW: I've got Dutchman's Pipe growing in our garden, in the hopes of attracting a Pipevine Swallowtail. So far, no luck. They haven't found my tiny urban backyard.

Darice: I brought the caterpillars in this year, mostly because all of last year's got eaten. I hope to help them out.

Camissonia: The caterpillars are eating garden fennel, which is actually quite a ferocious weed in California. The female lays her eggs on our fennel, which is fun to watch.

camissonia said...

Aha! Anise & fennel, now I get it...

Byddi - We didn't come here for the grass... said...

Wow - what an amazing post. Well done with the protective habitat. Looking forward to the butterfly photos.

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