05 May 2014

A Black Swallowtail Catterpillar Makes a Chrysalis {With Video}

We watch the little caterpillars eat whole leaves from the dill and parsley we feed them (we run out in the garden, so we buy more organic parsley from the grocery store).  They get fat quickly, and we can't seem to tire of of the way they search, find, and nibble the leaves, and repeat.  

I admit, I'm especially taken with their stumpy feet that hold on to anything while they bend and twist around with half their bodies or more looking for the next leafy victim.

Right before they make a chrysalis, the Black Swallowtail caterpillars are at their fattest yet, but they have to empty their digestive tract.  When they do so, they shrink a bit, and begin to wander.

Will this stick be the right hanging place?  Or will they search for another?  They wander to the very limit, and sometimes gravity carries them right back down to the bottom when they don't hold tightly enough to the last end of a branch.

They twist and turn, inspecting each potential chrysalis site with care.  Once satisfied (or at least more contained than they are when they try to roam all over creation), they settle on a place on the underside of a stick, attach with a string, and wait.  Within a day or so, without much warning, they make the chrysalis.  Which takes ten minutes or less, believe it or not.

Now, it's not much that will entice me to stay up late.  Not New Year's, not 4th of July fireworks (usually, anyway).  But that last look at the caterpillars, and finding one that just might be wiggly enough to make a chrysallis soon?  

That will absolutely keep me up until 1:00 a.m., especially when the second one starts the process right after the first one finishes.  And I will be unbelievably tired the next day (I don't sleep in well), but it will have been worth it all, just to have seen the miracle of a chrysalis in the making.

Due to technical difficulties, today's video will be posted on Google+ rather than directly in this blog post, and you can view it here.  It's about three minutes long, and I hope you enjoy watching this miracle as much as I did!  :)


  1. How fun is THAT??? LOVED watching this little video -- Thanks for sharing it!! I also love your still photos of this -- wow, you are able to get amazing pictures with your phone!! Nicely done!!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the video! It's such an amazing thing, the life cycle of the butterfly! Can't wait for the next stage!

      About the photos...while I do share some phone photos on the blog, most are taken with our simple digital camera. I am still learning about its settings and capabilities, and I'm having fun seeing my photos improve little by little as I try them out!


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