Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Birth of a Butterfly

Today, I will write about crafts made by mother nature. Warning: loooong post.
Do you remember this kind of creature, which I wrote about some time ago?

This is a caterpillar of the Black Swallowtail butterfly. I had two in my garden. They were so cute, fat and ate a lot of my parsley. I called them Genio and Henio (Gene and Henry in English, but think: Itchy and Scratchy). The very next day after the previously mentioned post, Genio attached itself to the underside of a wooden handrail (the photo is bad because I couldn't properly fit the camera into the space) and made a handsome chrysalis:

The other one, Henio, was a bit reckless, hanging out on the parsley for all the neighbourhood birds to see. I decided that as soon, as it's ready to transform into chrysalis, I'll take it home and put it on my hibiscus plant. The very next day, that's what I did. It "run around" on the plant happily for about an hour and then spun it's little silk thread. Another hour or two later, Henio was hanging properly from the branch:

After another couple of hours, it formed a pretty chrysalis:

Notice, how the colour of the chrysalis depends largely on the colour of the surroundings it is attached to. Genio, which attached itself to a wooden rail, very closely resembled that type of wood. Henio, which found a place among green-white-yellow leaves, made a green-yellow chrysalis.

Well, I checked on these two several times a day, for almost two weeks. One morning, I went to check on Genio (the gray-brown one outside) and... it was gone!!! I missed its coming out! Apparently, this type of butterfly likes to be born between 5-11 a.m. I guess so. At that time, Henio on the hibiscus, didn't look anywhere ready to come out. Several days later, in the evening, I noticed it became more transparent and I could faintly see the yellow spots on its wings.

The silly hibiscus decided to drop just the very leaf Henio was attached to, so I fortified the stem with scotch tape. Anyway, I knew that the time of the butterfly's emergence is near - it could be minutes to hours. Of course, I didn't dare sleep that night. I really didn't want to miss this, especially that I have never seen the birth of a butterfly with my own eyes before (television programs don't count). So, at 5 a.m. - nothing. 6, 7, 8 a.m. still NOTHING. Until around 11:15 a.m., when I literally left for 30 seconds to put a towel in the laundry basket. I came back and Henio was totally out!!! I missed it! It wasn't so bad, though, because it was still all crumpled up. So, these are the very first pics of Henio (you can see how it progressively straightened its wings):

After about an hour, the butterfly started to walk on the plant and practiced opening its wings fully. And then... it turned out that Henio (Henry) is a Henrietta, i.e. we have a girl (males have more/bigger yellow spots and less blue)! I let her climb onto my hand and arm, and went to sit with her in the backyard.

Since my arm started getting a little stiff, I decided to put her on the parsley plant.

There, she sat for about an hour, preparing her wings for flight.

And then... she flew. Made one big circle in the air, came back to where I  was standing and flew away for good, leaving behind her "Cinderella's slipper":

So, that was on July 20th. I didn't see her at all until today. Well, maybe it was the other butterfly (Genio), but I don't know whether it was a male or female. What visited us today was a female. Sure, it could have been an entirely different butterfly, but I have never seen this kind in real life, especially in my city, so I'm hoping it was "my" Henrietta. She sat on the parsley plant, then flew toward me and my daughter on the patio. She almost sat on my DD's head, then fluttered very close to my face and almost sat on my hand and went back to parsley. There, she stayed for several minutes and flew away again. However, she left us a gift - two tiny butterfly eggs:

I hope that they'll survive to become fully grown butterflies. By the way, observing the different stages of a butterfly's life was a very good learning experience for my daughter. I also didn't know that many people raise butterflies in their homes, although not all kinds of butterflies are suitable for this. That's it for now.
If you lasted this far into the post, thank you for your patience. Have a wonderful day. Kirk out.


  1. Ahhhh...this is wonderful! Beautiful pictures and story. Thank you for sharing!:D

  2. You were a wonderful butterfly guardian angel! Thank you for the fabulous pictorial, too! I am in awe.