Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Black Swallowtail Caterpillars: the Rest of the Story

After having gotten sidetracked by the car wreck that totaled my van (in the background awaiting pickup by the insurance company), I am finally able to get around to posting some photos of the sequence of metamorphosis of the Black Swallowtails from larvae to adults. Click on the photos to enlarge.

The netting I used to keep predators away from the caterpillars for a few days until some of them could grow large enough to pupate; not pretty, but functional

One of the big ones before I covered the fennel (my hand is behind the caterpillar to show scale; I'm not holding it because I try to handle them as little as possible)

Looking through the netting at two of the larger ones busy munching fennel

Three more through the netting; can you find them?

A big one who will be getting "sleepy" soon, but still has plenty of eating to do

One of the caterpillars "getting sleepy" (beginning to pupate)

A chrysalis formed by one of the four caterpillars I temporarily moved to a butterfly cage

On the fennel--empty chrysalis (brown) at top and one still waiting (green) at bottom

An empty chrysalis from the butterfly cage

Occupant of the empty chrysalis in the previous photo; one of "my babies" after having emerged from the chrysalis, its wings all pumped up and dry

Pester taking far too much interest in the butterfly

Moving the butterfly from Pester's reach

Brand new Black Swallowtail fluttering over the flowers; the fennel has seen better days


  1. Wow! How fun is that!!! We used to do that with the Monarchs up north. It's so fun for the kids too!!

  2. I used to grow butterflies like that when I was young. What a lovely series of photos and what spectacluar butterflies (and caterpillars!).

  3. Neat! I saw the tinest butterfly in the garden yesterday but no camera. I saw a very big yellow and black butterfly while I was in North Carolina, but I like the way yours looks better!

  4. Thank you for this series of pictures. What an astounding process and transformation. Our Creator put so much care and detail in each individual living thing to point to His existence and that He be glorified. Praise Him for caterpillars and butterflies!!!

  5. This whole process is just amazing. We used to do this (raise butterflies) when the kids were little and it was always a wonderful process to witness.

  6. Wow that is one gorgeous butterfly Melissa. I love the colours. I don't think we have anything resembling that over here in the UK. Love your sequence.

  7. Lovely butterflies. Pester must have thought you were tending them for him.

  8. Such beautiful the shot of Pester with the black one, almost close enough to touch, huh? Wonderful to see your project with these butterflies, I know the flowers must be as pretty as the butterflies there. Great shots of the chrysalis, not many can get that close without harming them. Good for you! Smile today. :)

  9. YAY! That is fantastic! Maybe I could grow to like those caterpillars.....