Raising Butterflies. Again.

Nearly three weeks ago, I mentioned that one of the dill plants in my garden had attracted some caterpillars. Or, rather, attracted a female butterfly who laid her eggs there. As of the date of that publication, I had been watching fourteen very cute and vibrantly colored eastern black swallowtail caterpillars grow and eat (and man, can they eat) for several days.

Black swallowtail caterpillar munching on a dill leaf

Since then, of course, they all went off and transformed into chrysalids. And a week later, I am happy to say, all but one emerged, healthy and beautiful, and flew off to fulfill their butterfly destinies.

Chrysalis one hour before butterfly emerged (The chrysalis turns translucent, making the wings’ yellow markings visible.)

It took an hour or two from the time they each emerged for their wings to firm up enough to fly. During that time, I was fortunate to get some great photos. And just this past Sunday, as I was watching the last butterfly gear up for her big departure, something wild and altogether unbelievable happened. Another female black swallowtail appeared and laid eight more eggs (that I can find) on the same dill plant.

So, it looks like I’m not finished raising butterflies for the season, after all. I admit, these miraculous little creatures have brought me much joy over the past several weeks. I love watching them grow and change. The best part, of course, is watching them fly away.

I had hoped to share some of my photos with you. And I’d considered publishing a post with a decidedly philosophical bent, per usual, using the butterflies as an allegorical image of some kind, but in the end I thought better of it.

This one is just for the butterflies. I hope you enjoy it.

Female black swallowtail resting on a daisy plant.
Female black swallowtail
Male black swallowtail
Female black swallowtail with empty chrysalis hanging in the background
Male black swallowtail butterfly emerging from his chrysalis
Eventually, he picked himself up and found a comfortable spot to hang.
The last female to emerge
Male black swallowtail resting on a lemon balm plant

30 thoughts on “Raising Butterflies. Again.

  1. Oh they’re beautiful. I don’t think we have that particular kind down here in Aus. I mean, we do have some pretty ones, but these black swallowtail beauties are…can a butterfly be described as “stylish”? .

    Wonderful to see the footage of it emerging, too. Thanks for sharing with us! I’ve never been lucky enough to see such a thing IRL, although I have seen one fresh outta its chrysalis…it had see-through sorta cellophaney wings a “newborn” look. It sat very still for ages before it flew off.

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    1. Haha…I like that: “stylish”. They kind of are, aren’t they? I’m glad you enjoyed the video, too. You are right, they are a lot like newborns. And I was a little surprised how long it took some of them to fly off after emerging. I actually captured a caterpillar pupating, or transforming into a chrysalis, on video, as well. But that one was quite a bit longer. It’s wild.

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      1. For sure. It was fascinating. They actually molt, and their whole body beneath the shed caterpillar skin is a bright green pod, which hardens within a few hours and becomes a chrysalis.

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      2. Holy hell, that’s…for want of a better word: trippy! What a bizarre and fascinating process. I hope I get to witness such a thing some day. It’s still winter here, but come spring ( I’m guessing these things happen during the warmer months) I vow to be on the lookout for nature’s little marvels a bit more often.

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  2. It is no wonder that humans in the past were inspired by and invented all sorts of explanations for this sort of magic going on in front of their eyes. Remains one of the most fascinating natural wonders to watch.

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    1. Absolutely. Well said. You know, I spent hours and hours outside watching them, just mesmerized. I felt like I was 5 years old again, studying their movements, researching their life cycles and behaviors. There is something so refreshing and inherently joyful about an experience like that…it’s a big part of their magic, I think.

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    1. I hope you are well, also, Lynne. It’s good to hear from you. 🙂 This is my first experience having a butterfly garden, too. It’s a wonderful experience…the only struggle I have now, of course, is finding dill this late in the season to feed the caterpillars that have just hatched.

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  3. This is so interesting, I have never seen anyone actually raised butterflies before. I can only imagine how captivating it was to watch them went from eggs into beautiful butterflies. Nature’s amazing! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. When I planted the garden, I never anticipated attracting and raising butterflies, but sure enough, it happened. I find having them around is a real blessing, and I hope to plant a garden that attracts many more next year. You are right, nature is full of miracles. Thank you for reading. I’m happy you enjoyed the post!

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