A New Butterfly!

Something exciting happened at our house today! For the first time ever, we had an Eastern Black Swallowtail butterfly, that we raised from a caterpillar, hatch! As you may know if you follow this blog, we have been raising Monarch butterflies for a few years now, but this is the first time we raised an Eastern Black Swallowtail. And wow, is it ever pretty! 🙂

The top side of their wings looks different from the bottom side. So the last picture was the top side, and this picture is of one half of the bottom side.

I think it is beautiful! Have you ever seen the chrysalis for an Eastern Black Swallowtail? Here’s what it looks like:

It almost looks like a piece of the stick, doesn’t it? Notice the “string” that is holding the chrysalis to the stick. Pretty cool to think that a caterpillar made that! The next picture shows you what the chrysalis looks like after the butterfly came out.

Can you see that the top part is open now? Check out this really cool picture where you can see down inside the empty chrysalis. 🙂

It’s hard to imagine how a butterfly fit inside there! Wow! Soon it was time to let the new butterfly fly off to his new future. He (I THINK it was a male, but not absolutely sure on that) stayed on my hand for a few minutes and then he moved on to the flowers.

And then he was off and flying! Good-bye, beautiful butterfly! We’re so glad we could be a small part of your life! Safe travels! 🙂

Ahhh, isn’t nature wonderful? 😉

Monarch Butterflies Emerging From Their Chrysalis

Hello and welcome to another adventure in the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly! Last week we looked at how the Monarch caterpillar changes into its chrysalis. Today we’ll see what happens when it’s time for the butterfly to emerge from the chrysalis. (Hang on until the end of this post for the video!) So just to remind you, here’s what the Monarch butterfly’s chrysalis looks like.

When the time for the butterfly to emerge is getting close, the chrysalis will start to turn a darker color and look black. Notice in this picture that one chrysalis looks green but the one in the background is black.

Here is a closer look.

Did you notice that you can see the butterfly’s wing inside the chrysalis? My pictures aren’t super clear because they are taken looking through the plastic container, but here is a picture taken with a flashlight shining on the chrysalis.

Whoa!! How cool is that?! The chrysalis is now very thin and you can see the butterfly! Next, the chrysalis starts to slowly open. Can you see along the left hand side that the chrysalis is splitting open?

Then the split becomes a little wider. The butterfly is hanging upside down right now and you can start to see its head coming out first.

The butterfly is dropping down a little lower now. You can start to see its legs that are folded up close to its head.

It’s now beginning to slide out of the chrysalis!

Sliding farther out…almost there! The chrysalis will stay attached to the top of the container as the butterfly slides down and out of it.

And it’s out! Look how big it’s body looks right now and how small and folded up it’s wings are.

The butterfly grabs a hold of the empty chrysalis and it will hang right side up now.

As the butterfly hangs on the chrysalis, it will pump fluid into its wings and the wings will begin to expand and the body will become smaller. This next picture was taken 5 minutes after the butterfly emerged or eclosed. Its wings are still wrinkled looking.

Then 10 minutes…it’s wings are looking straighter.

And then here is 15 minutes after emerging.

It takes a couple of hours for the butterfly to finish this process and for it’s wings to expand and dry off. They don’t need to eat right away so it’s good to give them time to dry off and to begin to flex their wings. After a few hours have passed, I carefully open the container and put my hand close to the butterfly and they usually climb onto my finger. And then it’s time to set them free outside.

Here is a video I took of the process of the butterfly emerging from it’s chrysalis. It is so amazing to watch this happen!

It has been such a rewarding experience for me to help these beautiful creatures along in their transformation from a tiny little egg into an amazing gorgeous butterfly! This is my second year of raising and releasing Monarchs and I hope I can continue to do so for many years to come! I hope you have enjoyed coming along with me on this journey! 🙂

Monarch Caterpillars Going Into Their Chrysalis

Hi there! Last week we ended our blog post about our Monarch caterpillars when they were starting to J-hang. They attach themselves firmly to the top of the cage or stick they are hanging from and then they hang like the letter J.

This week let’s talk about what happens when they go from J-hanging into their chrysalis. Here is a picture of 3 caterpillars in the different stages of going into a chrysalis.

The caterpillars hang in the letter J form for a day or so and then something amazing starts happening. They straighten their bodies out just a little and if you watch very carefully at just the right time, you can see little ripples moving up across their body. They are getting ready to shed their outside layer of “skin”. The “skin” will start to split open down by their head. They are hanging upside down so their head is at the bottom.

The split will get bigger and bigger and you will see more and more of the light green part appear.

Notice how the “skin” is getting all wrinkled up at the top.

Then finally, the bunch of old “skin” they don’t need anymore falls off.

They will wiggle around inside for a little bit and they will get shorter and shorter.

The outside of the chrysalis begins to look smooth.

Here is a chrysalis that is finished that we found outside.

Did you notice the gold colored dots and the gold ring around the chrysalis? Isn’t it beautiful?! The caterpillar is inside the chrysalis now and will be there for around 1 to 2 weeks. You won’t see much happening for a while but a wonderful, amazing transformation is taking place inside! Be sure to come back next week when we’ll talk about the process that happens next! That’s when the new butterfly emerges from the chrysalis! 🙂