Our Butterfly Project – Update #3

As I said last week, life moves pretty fast when you are a caterpillar. I am writing this Tuesday night, and by tomorrow things could be different!

Let’s start with the Black Swallowtails. By the end of the week, they were all in chrysalis, with one poky little one. Sunday morning I got up, peeked at their enclosure, and saw a butterfly sitting there. It is so exciting to see honestly, just all of a sudden this beautiful creature pops into being.

After they eclose, you need to give them some time for their wings to dry – get their wings in order and all. Before then they are sort of floppy, fluttering wildly and going nowhere. I am giving them about three hours before releasing them and it seems to be a good amount of time. I named this first one after my Uncle who passed away in the fall from COVID. I never got to say goodbye and I whispered to this one to pass my love on to my Uncle as it winged away. I hope Arthur Blue flies high and has a good life.

Later that day our second Swallowtail eclosed. I named this one after my Aunt Barb, and released it when my mom was over. Art took off when we released him, he was ready to fly, but Barb flew a bit then landed nearby and stuck around for a while. That is her at the top.

This morning I woke up to number three, a beautiful female. I released her later in the morning, naming her Marion for my grandmother, and she sat on my hand for quite a while. They feel so light yet you can feel their little feet grabbing on. I sat with her a bit then went to set her on a flower. When I leaned over to place her down, she flew off without hesitation.

Now for the monarchs! Last week I had four hungry caterpillars. Then Thursday, my friend called me to pick up more. When I got there, she had nine for me. 9! By that point though, two of my first four were in chrysalis. And my new ones were big chunkers, so they were destined for chrysalis within a short amount of time.

I was so thrilled that I happened to be sitting at my desk when my first monarch went into chrysalis! I captured some of it on video.

When monarch caterpillars decide it is time, the wander around a bit, looking for their spot. Then they sort of are in on deck position, I call it. Just sitting there. After a bit, they fasten their little silk ending onto whatever they are attached to, then eventually go into a J-hook position. From there it is a waiting game.

These two are a little scrunchy still. They will hang all the way in a J, hanging straight down with a little hook at the end. Then the magical process begins!

So, at current count I have released three Black Swallowtails, and have three left in chrysalis. And.. I have 12 in full chrysalis, two on deck, and one still eating. Two didn’t make it, sadly. One was eaten by another caterpillar, and one for some reason just died. I am betting by tomorrow the two on decks will be in full chrysalis, and the munching muncher will be on deck at least.

If you look at the top you can see so many chrysalis! Monarchs don’t overwinter, so they will all eclose this year. Black Swallowtails, you never know, sometimes it might be next spring. We will see.

And that is where we are as of today!

13 thoughts on “Our Butterfly Project – Update #3

    1. It is so fascinating and exciting to watch! Wyatt loves watching the caterpillars just eat and eat – and it is sort of peaceful to just sit there and watch honestly. And I never get over the excitement of walking by and seeing a butterfly, newly born! I brought some eggs in last week, so I am going to have a bit about that this week. 🙂

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