Monday, September 2, 2013
Black Swallowtail Butterfly Emerges
They are beautiful, big, colorful butterflies with a very black background color.
In my previous post the caterpillar was preparing to change into the chrysalis portion of its life cycle. It sat quietly for a day before shedding its skin one last time to become the chrysalis.
By the next day the green color was starting to fade and become more brown.
Black Swallowtails overwinter in this chrysalis form here in Minnesota, and I thought that might be what these tree bark looking chrysalises might do. But after 12 days for each, four of the chrysalises have now had the adult butterfly emerge. Perhaps the remaining 16 day old chrysalis will wait until spring.
It seems these buterflies like to wait until full dark to emerge, as I waited up very late several nights and missed all but this one as it was emerging at 5 AM last Thursday.
There is no movement, and suddenly the chrysalis cracks open and the butterfly quickly crawls up the plant stem to find a spot where its wings can hang and expand.
Notice the very prominent greenish yellow veins in the wings, through which the fluid can be seen flowing as the wings rapidly expand.
The butterfly occaisionly tries to open the wings, but they are not strong enough yet and flop to the side mostly.
The new butterfly moves its proboscus mouth open and closed repeatedly during this time to get it ready for its first meal of flower nectar.
I released each butterfly on flowers hoping to photograph it outdoors. But each butterfly immediately flew high up into the sky and into the top leaves of trees near by.
I hope this butterfly's large abdoman means it is a female with lots of eggs to be laid yet this summer so more Black Swallowtails will be seen next summer.