Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Our Swallowtail butterfly

Last fall George was taking Lincoln for a walk out in our fields and as he looked down saw a caterpillar on Queen Anne's lace. It was a swallowtail caterpillar and I wondered why it would be on that plant when I knew that it liked dill and carrot tops. In a simple online search we found that Queen Anne's lace is a wild carrot and is what the carrots we now eat were once cultivated from in Europe.
This is the position it goes into when attaching itself.
It will then hang back and form the chrysalis.
We have raised monarchs many times and then a few years back my dad found us a swallowtail chrysalis on some dillweed and at that time assumed them much like the monarch. We waited and waited for the butterfly to emerge but nothing happened. Summer turned to fall and then winter and our chrysalis still sat in the jar on the kitchen counter. Then one cold day in February with our fireplace heating the house toasty warm (or stifling hot at times) a yellow swallowtail emerged. What were we to do with it? Unfortunately, we did take it outside and obviously it froze.

Lesson learned and this time I knew more of what to expect and that being late in summer our caterpillar would be hibernating in it's chrysalis over the winter. This time I put it in our cold, dark garage and then brought it into the house the beginning of June when our fields were beginning to fill with plants to sustain the butterfly.

While we had a stick in the jar for the caterpillar it instead
chose to attach itself to a very thin stem. I attached it to the stick for support. 
It did start out as a green chrysalis but over time turned brown.
A black swallowtail emerged a few weeks ago. It was a bit different than with the monarch as he didn't seem as patient to hang and wait for his wings to dry but kept attempting to crawl around so that he fell more than once.

He eventually did take off in flight and all was well. We know it
is male by the brighter yellow markings and not as much blue
toward the bottom as a female has.
Watching the life cycle of the butterfly is one of my favorite things to do. A simply amazing creation created by a most amazing God!

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