another beautiful gift from Madeline

another beautiful gift from Madeline

My friend Madeline is a nature lover, floral designer, and experienced forager. In other words, she is a kindred spirit. I met her for lunch today to talk about doing a book related event together later this spring. As were were leaving, she offered me this astonishing gift: A black swallowtail chrysalis! A chrysalis is the pupa stage of a butterfly. When a caterpillar is fully grown, it makes a button of silk which it uses to fasten its body to a leaf or a twig. Then the caterpillar’s skin comes off for the final time. Under this old skin is a hard skin called a chrysalis. This swallowtail chrysalis is attached to the branch by cremastral hooks protruding from the rear of the chrysalis and the head is held up by a silk girdle. When the butterfly finds is pupation spot, it will attach its hind legs to a plant with silk and then put a strand of silk around its head. That silk sling will keep attached to the twig all winter long, through howling winds and heavy wet snows. Amazing.

black swallowtail chrysalis ( Papilio polyxenes)

  • Old Lady Gardener says:

    A true gift from a kindred spirit! And it’s a fine bit of camouflage, isn’t it?
    I’ve had the pleasure of watching the swallowtail life cycle full circle, starting with the butterfly laying eggs on my parsley, raising a caterpillar, seeing it form the chrysalis, and the hatching and releasing the next spring. It was a miracle of being in the right place at the right time at each stage. Hope you get to see it emerge!!


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