‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Friday, May 23, 2008

insect midwifery and other acts of alchemy

I am here to say that I single-handedly produced a butterfly where once there was a caterpillar. And to think I almost failed biology.

The real miracle is that it didn't get its exquisitely delicate wings caught in the 16 feet of packing tape I used to secure the chrysalides to the top of the bug box. I can just imagine how that conversation would have gone. "Sweetie, of COURSE it will be fine with one wing!"

Lucy discovered the emerged butterfly first. She has been on Butterfly Watch practically since their arrival and has been recording their vital signs hourly - increased diameter, color change, rapid eye movement, etc. I kept trying not to ask "are they dead yet?" At one point she told me that if they didn't emerge now, they surely would turn into butterflies next year - just like some of those bulbs we planted. We would just put it in the garden and when the time was right - after months of beating sun and driving snow - it would get around to coming out. There's always an escape plan.

The remaining chrysalides look like there may be hope for them, too. If you look carefully, you can see the pattern of the wing inside (click on the image for a better look). I can't believe I am taking macro pictures of bug blobs.

Today a second butterfly appeared and we decided to let them both run free, before they got caught in the packing tape or tired of my delicious cooking (brown sugar and water, per instructions). We took the two bug boxes outside and opened them. The one pictured above was a little drunk on brown sugar water and wasn't interested in moving out. The one not pictured requested the portion of goods that fell to it and then wasted its substance on riotous living. I did not happen to have a camera handy to capture exactly what that looked like.

When last seen, both butterflies were fluttering gaily in the lilac bushes - where they were probably eaten by the chickens.


JAbel said...

That butterfly looks like it's posing!What do you do to get a buttefly to smile for the camera.

Susan said...

Jabel - nothing. It announced it was ready for its close-up, so I went for my camera.