Friday, May 24, 2013

The butterfly who came to call

Around the first of summer, I watched a butterfly flutter around the new leaves of my small orange tree and deposit two very small eggs.  She stayed around for another few minutes and then flew away.  I examined the eggs carefully as they were on the tips of two different orange leave, and then I didn't think anything more about them and left them alone.  I figured that some birds or other insects would eat them.  Photo taken from a webpage for caterpillars and moths.

About a month or so later I noticed that a lot of the leaves of the orange tree (which they seem to prefer) had been eaten by something, and as I was searching among the leaves I found two caterpillars of the Giant Swallowtail.  The caterpillar looked a twig with droppings of white and the head of a snake, so I left them alone to eat as they pleased.  I would find them on the leaves in the morning and during the hot part of the day have moved into the shade of the stem or branches.

I wondered what would happen if they were disturbed and when I touched them with a small twig the larger one responded by protruding these two tongue-like things as the defense mechanism, that quickly withdrew into the mouth area.

It was but a week ago that I noticed that one of the caterpillars had found himself a place under a large stem and began to attache and change.

This week I found that both of them had transformed and begun the next cycle of change.  I am not sure just how long this process will take but I will keep my eye on them and hope I can get some good shots as the emerge.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013