Monday, October 1, 2012

When the Pupa is ready...

Remember this post ? Well, I forgot to tell you the rest of the story! I was so lucky to witness one of nature's most beautiful and amazing transformations. And to share it with Alistair was so much fun. It was pretty adorable when he would wake up and say "Mama, can we go look at the chrysalis?"

So... Mr. Caterpillar was eating like crazy until one day, he kept leaving the plant and ending up in weird places. I kept putting him back on the plant (because I like to interfere with nature, silly human that I am!) not realizing that he was searching for a good place to set up camp. He finally found the right spot and got all set and hung upside down. Then his body started blistering and puffing up. It was insane. This whole process happened within an hour. I kept running back to see what was happening next! Here are a few pics during the process.

Pupa state, blistering, bubbling, finally a chrysalis.
Then he was in his chrysalis for about 9 days. In those nine days, we moved to North Carolina. I checked whether or not a Gulf Fritillary could survive in Asheville, and it looked good. So I packed him up and drove 3 hours to our new home.
Me driving with all my plants and critters. I had a
 chrysalis, 2 caterpillars and a fish in the car with me. 

We were so excited for him to emerge!  On the ninth day, it started to turn a bit dark, and I was afraid he hadn't made it. It was getting colder in the evenings here in the mountains, so I put it in the garage overnight in case he was still alive and needed to stay warm. But I had pretty much given up all hope.

The next morning my husband was in the garage going through boxes when he suddenly yelled, "Lindsay! Get out here right now!!" He had caught the butterfly emerging! It was amazing. It's a slower process that I had expected. Apparently they have to let their wings unfold and dry off before they can fly. It also seemed to me that he needed to get his sea legs.
Just emerged, wings still folded.
Wings stretching out, happy to be free! 
I watched him toddle around on the branches of his passionflower for a bit, then he was gone. Hopefully he found a mate and lived happily ever after! Such a cool process.
The beautiful Gulf Fritillary next to a caterpillar about to undergo his own transformation.
I'm so glad I transplanted that passionflower when I found it growing wild. I had NO IDEA what was in store!! It made me want to sing "The Circle of Life" or something. Maybe get a passionflower and Gulf frit tattoo?? We'll see...

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