Saturday, July 21, 2012

The continuing saga of the Caterpillars...

Exciting News! All three of our Swallowtail caterpillars (or "cat-ra-ra", according to Justin) have entered chrysalis! The coolest part of the transformation was that the whole family (well, besides the little guy who had fallen asleep at naptime) got to watch the final caterpillar transform.

By the time the last, plumpest caterpillar decided to attatch herself to our stick, the other two had transformed into their cocoons. Alex noticed "Amelie" wriggling around.... a LOT...

Here she is, from the top of the jar in...
As she wriggled, a crack formed on her back, splitting her old skin and revealing a bumpy green 'shell' underneath.
Now we know why she had been eating constantly for the past week. That little thing put away a LOT of dillweed and carrot tops! She was building up strength and energy to wriggle out of her skin.
It was amazing how quickly the process went. I'd estimate she transformed within seven-eight minutes.
Those 'lead wires' that she attached herself to the stick with must be one of the strongest substances on earth. Two tiny strings kept her anchored while she twisted and contorted to work off her outer layer.
Then her dried up 'husk' curled up, and our soon-to-be-butterfly wriggled around until it fell completely off. It was really interesting to see the protective coloring that the chrysalis(es?) developed. The first one to turn remained bright green, like a leaf. The second one mimicked the tree bark so closely that we couldn't see it at first. Amelie's started out green, but over time also turned to a tree-bark brown.
Dave bought some netting just in time. We carefully transferred our branch to a box with netting on the front. Hopefully we can all watch as at least one of our friends burst forth into a beautiful butterfly in a few weeks!

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