Saturday, June 30, 2007

Hungry caterpillar update

One of the caterpillars emerged from its chrysalis today:

Meet the adult Papilio polyxenes, or Black Swallowtail butterfly. Because of the larger blue spots and smaller yellow spots, this one appears to be female.

Unfortunately, none of us observed it emerging from its chrysalis. I just walked into the dining room this afternoon and was startled by the big, black butterfly that was hanging out in there! These things are large, as far as butterflies go; its wingspan was probably about 3 1/2 inches across.

This insect seemed pretty docile and didn't seem to mind being handled. Lori and I marveled at it for awhile and then showed it to Kirby once he awoke from his nap. We then took it outside so it could go on its merry way:

You'd think that, at my age, I wouldn't be amazed by natural phenomena such as caterpillar-to-butterfly metamorphosis anymore. But Lori and I both found ourselves fascinated by this particular event. Perhaps its because both the larvae as well as the adults of this particular species are so attractive. Perhaps it's because, as parents, we tend to look at the world through Kirby's eyes now. Or perhaps it's because, given our busy lives, we tend to forget that there is a natural world around us until we are directly confronted by it in a manner such as this.

There's still one chrysalis left; Lori and I will keep a close eye on it in hopes that we can actually watch the butterfly emerge. And Lori and I will definitely be planting more dill in our front yard garden so that we can attract more of these beautiful Black Swallowtails in the future.

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