|Interestingly, the first caterpillar to change into chysalis is now the first butterfly.|
After the caterpillars became chrysalids last fall, I just couldn't bear abandoning them outside, even to the relative safety of my garden shed. So I kept them inside on my desk all winter, silent little companions.
Then in early April I moved the chrysalids outside onto my back porch. I hoped the still-cool nights and gradually warming days would trigger the metamorphosis. I wired the twigs to an old chair beneath a maple tree, where they'd get late afternoon sun and still be protected from heavy rain.
|I worried something could harm the chrysalids, but this was the safest spot I could find.|
I've been checking the chrysalids every couple days since then for any sign of change. I had just about given up when two nights ago, I noticed one chrysalis had suddenly turned dark. I'd read that a day before eclosure the chrysalis skin turns translucent and the adult wing colors show through. I was too tired that evening to really think about it, though, let alone get a photo. Indeed, by the next morning I had totally forgotten about it.
When I got home from work in the evening, I started my normal routine of puttering in the garden. Finally though I remembered to go check the chrysalids. I ambled into the back yard, not really expecting anything. But what a surprise-- the dark chrysalis was now an empty husk, with a beautifully formed butterfly dangling beneath it! I pelted inside to grab my camera, then spent the next forty minutes or so taking a zillion pictures and marveling at the gorgeous insect.
|The butterfly flexed its new wings, allowing me to see the dark markings of a female. Pink cigars, anybody?|
|Tiny barbed feet clung to the old shell of the chrysalis. I wonder how long she hung there before I got home?|
|It was neat to be so close I could see the texture of the antennae and the wings.|
|Almost ready to go...|
Just a few short seconds after the last photo, I watched the butterfly climb up to the top of her twig, pause for half a heartbeat, then spread her wings and waft gently away. I lost her in the sunshine, but presume she soared upward to scope out the neighborhood and find a flower full of nectar. I don't have a lot blooming in my garden yet (the flower bed is still under construction) but I know there are plenty of blossoms nearby. My vegetable garden is also full of vigorous dill plants that sprouted from last fall's seeds, so I hope she returns once she has found a mate. I'll be examining the dill closely all summer, hoping I can repeat the cycle!