Sunday, October 23, 2005

Black Swallowtail update

Black Swallowtail caterpillar attached to fence at Shakespeare Garden
October 3, 2005 -- photo by M. Winn

Black Swallowtail shortly after pupation - Oct. 6, 2005
Photo by Lloyd Spitalnik

Pupa on Oct 19 2005
Photo M.Winn

I first photographed it as a caterpillar on October 3 when it had just attached itself to a bamboo fence in the Shakespeare Garden. I posted a series of photos taken during the process of pupation on October 5. The next day I posted a picture of the pupa in its final form. Last Wednesday I photographed it again, as I will be doing periodically until the butterfly emerges next spring.

Though the two chrysalid pictures seem to be differently colored, that is certainly a function of the different times of day the photos were taken. The proof is the relative color in each photo of the pupa and the bamboo fencing-- almost the same. Perfect camouflage. Though I know exactly where the little butterfly-to-be is located and have visited it many times, I still have trouble finding it every time I come to the spot. Without a map or a guide I doubt you'd ever find it.

When I think back to the days the caterpillar spent in that location, first crawling back and forth looking for the perfect spot to spend the winter, and then the four days it spent attached by its "girdle" strings prior to its transformation into a pupa, [see first picture above] I shudder to think of how conspicuous it was -- bright green, yellow and black, just calling out "eat me eat me" to every passing songbird. Fortunately [for it and for us] it survived that perilous phase. In its present dull, woody-looking form, no self-respecting bird or bat would give it a second glance. Just a lump on a fence.