Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Swallowtail Project Update

I was walking by the fishbowl a little while ago, and I noticed that the caterpillar, which had hung all but motionless for over 36 hours after webbing itself to the glass was starting to twitch.  I called Georgia over and grabbed the camera and started shooting to catch it shedding it's caterpillar skin to become the chrysalis:

1:26 PM A slight green diamond marks the first split in the old skin

1:27 The hole in the skin widens and elongates
1:28 The entire head area is free, and its moving down the body

1:30  The skin is all retracted to the rear underside

1:31 Despite intense wriggling, the skin continues to hang on at the rear

1:32 The skin finally falls off, and the now "enchrysalized" butterfly to be continues wriggling
Now, we have a choice.  Do we keep it inside, and hope it develops into a butterfly in the next two weeks or so, or do we set it outside with a covering to keep rain and predators out, and let it try over winter as the chrysalis? 

From butterfliesandmoths.org:
Flight: One-2 flights from April-October in northern regions of range; 3 flights in southern regions.

Caterpillar Hosts: Leaves of plants in the parsley family (Apiaceae) including Queen Anne's Lace, carrot, celery and dill. Sometimes plants in the citrus family (Rutaceae) are preferred.
Sounds like there still might be time for it to emerge, mate and lay eggs (if female) by the end of its period here, although flowers and potential food are probably getting scarcer pretty rapidly.

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