Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The First Black Swallowtail

As reported before we left, and again this morning, we’ve had the Black Swallowtail pupae with us in Traverse City in a little fishtank. We arrived home late last night, and as already documented, Brigitte released the pupae again and installed them high above some old parsley plants still riding their chosen sticks.

Then, for good measure, Brigitte affixed a huge (from their perspective) plastic butterfly to the window by means of a suction cup. She’d bought the object in Suttons Bay, just north of where we’d stayed. Brigitte thought this “graven image” might “encourage” her charges. Here is Brigitte “archetype”:

Tonight, to our astonishment, the first Black Swallowtail, by coloration a little boy, sliced itself a very narrow opening in its pupa and came out. Brigitte came screaming to get me, and here is a good picture of the new arrival as seen from the side, wings closed, in other words. Meanwhile we’d moved the tray to a more central place in the sunroom. Here he is:

An hour or two later our friend took flight—but only temporarily. At first he crashed against a wall in an unhappy attempt to plunge himself into a lamp. He crawled up the leg of a stool. Brigitte put the stool on the table and took this photo of our friend. Notice that his wings are now half-open.

There the new-born sat for a while, calming down. But the light was still drawing him ever on, ever on. Taking wing again, he landed (happily for the photographer) on the rim of the lampshade and, exhausted from this effort, rested with wings completely opene:


And that was also—probably—the last we shall see of Aristo One of 2011. He took wing again, fell once more, and once more climbed up the leg of the stool. We then decided that we’d set him free—and took the stool out into the night. Good-bye, young one. You’re back in your element again. A happy, happy flight to you in your brief but splendid, fascinating life...

And the two of us came in again, bent over from all of the tensions of the night...

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