Monday, October 7, 2013

Back to Nature

It's been a couple of weeks since I wrote about the butterfly chrysalises that are covering the back of my house.

At the time, I speculated about how long the chrysalis stage lasts; I could have looked it up, but I didn't.

A trip out on the deck this weekend proved my speculation wrong. Seems like after several weeks in the chrysalis, the butterfly starts to slowly emerge:

Emerging Gulf Fritillary butterfly, October 3, 2013

I discovered this one on October 2 in the evening; I rushed home from work with the camera on October 3, figuring it would be long gone, but it essentially looked the same. Every so often, it wiggled its antennae at me. 

Here's the same chrysalis from another angle:
Emerging Gulf Fritillary butterfly, October 3, 2013

At first, I thought this emergence must happen fairly quickly, because the butterfly seems so vulnerable like this, and must be hungry, right? So I'd race out to check it in the morning, then race home to check in the evening. But the process must take way longer than I thought, because here is the same chrysalis this morning:

Emerging Gulf Fritillary butterfly, October 7, 2013

Here is another emerging butterfly:
Emerging Gulf Fritillary butterfly, October 7, 2013

This one isn't quite as far along; it's antennae aren't out yet, and only a small amount of wing is visible.

Here is an empty chrysalis, showing the split down the middle where the butterfly emerged:
Empty Gulf Frittilary Chrysalis

Here is a chrysalis that hasn't started to open yet:
 Chrysalis ready for emergence

And here are some caterpillars that I think died sometime during pupation; I can see where the chrysalis just started to form, but then the process stopped, and now, several weeks later, the caterpillars are just hanging there, dessicating:

And this is a mystery visitor that surprised me when I opened the back door this morning:

This is about 6 inches above my head, right as I open my back door - that's the outside on the left of the door frame, and the kitchen on the right.

This big black and white butterfly really startled me; he was slowly flapping his wings, and just hanging onto that chrysalis. At first, my brain processed it as a freshly emerged butterfly; his wings were even wet! But then I realized that a) he's not orange. Not a gulf fritillary at all. And b) the chrysalis he's hanging onto is still maturing, and not ready to open yet.

This pretty visitor ignored me and Bailey as we went in and out, opening and closing the door, and flew away after about an hour.

This is a weed that randomly decided to grow in a pot of ivy on my deck:
 Pretty deck weed

It has 2 different colors of flowers - pink and purple, and they remind me of Gloxinia, although that is certainly not what this is:

Purple deck weed flower

Pink deck weed flower

more purple deck weed flowers

And here is a visitor outside the bead shop last week:

All 3 pics are the same guy - he's at least 3 inches long, and a beautiful grass green (as in the first photo), and some sort of grasshopper. My best guess is that he's actually a grasshopper nymph, the immature form that develops from the egg, before multiple molts occur, resulting in the mature adult grasshopper. But I'm just guessing, based on the smoothness of the body and the lack of features I normally associate with adult forms.

He hung around for a couple of days. During the first day, I actually caught him and carried him down to the hedges, away from all the stores and people, because I know how some folks like to squash bugs. But he was back the next day, so I decided to leave him alone.

It's still in the upper 80s here, but the weathermen (at least on our local ABC station) are calling the forecast for tomorrow "Cold", as it will only be in the 60's. Yay! Can't wait. Tired of the hot and muggies! I know you guys north of here are really feeling us, with our "cold snap" heading in tomorrow. The weather dude even suggested we take a jacket with us tomorrow. Yeah, that'll happen. Thanks, weather dude!

edited 8:40 PM, 10/7/13
The cold front is moving through, and it is absolutely pouring buckets and buckets of rain. So hard. With loud booming thunder, which is freaking Bailey out. I am worried that all this hard rain, sluicing down the aides of the house, will damage all my butterfly chrysalises! Though I imagine eons of evolution has made them able to withstand storms. But I'm still worried, and can't wait to check on them in the morning.


Therese's Treasures said...

Cool post I enjoyed reading about the progress of your butterflies. I do wonder what the black and white butterfly was up to. I also wonder what was so interesting about the front of your shop that the grasshopper came back to after you took him to a safe place. Ah yes the cooler weather is coming it is about darn time, although where I am it will not be as cool as where you are, but it will not be hot either.

Nancy Sopp said...

I loved the photos of the crysalises and of the butterflies emerging. How wonderful to have them on your house! Here in Alaska, it is difficult to find even a single chrysalis, so I always ordered caterpillars in the Spring so that my students could view the process. It is so amazing. Thanks for sharing your photos! What a reminder of the mysteries and beauty of Nature.