Two weeks ago I was leading a group of 2nd graders around the Beaver Pond trail at Springbrook Nature Center. We were looking for examples of life cycles in nature. One of the students noticed this very odd caterpillar feeding on a wild cherry tree leaf. It was a White Admiral butterfly caterpillar. These Caterpillars mimic a bird dropping to not get eaten.It does not look like food to me!
It hung like this for less than 24 hours before its skin split and the new chrysalis underneath was revealed.
Notice the spiracles, or breathing openings, one on each segment of its body. they are little tiny dark "holes" in the center of each segment.
Less than 24 hours before photo was taken this was a caterpillar walking up the leaf on the tree!
It still is trying to look like a bird dropping so nothing will eat it. It also has this very odd disc sticking out of its back. Somehow the disc must make it look less like something good to eat, because I don't believe it will be of any use to the future butterfly.
The butterfly was ready to emerge at this point. I waited up until after midnight to try to catch it breaking out of the chrysalis, but finally gave up.
Here it is next to the now empty chrysalis.