Friday, August 12, 2011

Caterpillar Turns Chrysalis

In the world of Lepidoptera, to which our Black Swallowtails belong, caterpillars morph into chrysalides, the fancy Greek for the common Latin pupae (dolls). Chrysalis is rooted in the Greek for gold (khrysos). Just before this transformation starts in earnest, the caterpillars become very active. The phase, called “wandering,” serves them to find suitable places for self-suspension for the duration…

This took place with ours yesterday. The by now huge beasties had devoured, devastated several dill plants and were now ranging far and wide in restless motion amidst the ruins. A couple found places early. Then, to our amazement, they began excreting huge amounts of liquids and dark mud and visibly shrank in size. This morning the first of them had already succeeded in forming its pupa, shown here. It is suspended by nearly invisibly tendons of silk and is also glued to the stick at its tail. The second photo shows another one in the earlier stage, but already suspended. Click images to enlarge them.

To see all of the activity, please follow these three links to YouTube (one, two, three). The first is the shortest and features Brigitte laughing (without copyright infringement).

Oh—and by the way. If you want to see “Sun-Drenched Total Boredom” mentioned in yesterday’s post, link to it here.

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