Sunday, August 6, 2017

Finally, I'm a beautiful butterfly!

Je suis enfin un beau papillon! Finally, I am a beautiful butterfly!
 I hope you read my last post about the first three stages of a butterfly metamorphosis. Today, you will see the final stage when the butterfly emerges. I was determined to arrange my life to view this miracle first hand. To see the butterfly emerge from the pupa was a thrill! I knew the pupa stage was about ten days so I planned to get up early since I had read they usually emerge early in the morning. For three days, I watched this process and each time I understood more and was  continually moved at the wonder and amazement of this miracle of new life unveiling before my eyes.
This is the darkened pupa ready to emerge. I made this picture at 6:49 and by 7:17 it had emerged. All these pics were made with my iPhone so the time and date was recorded which made it helpful to remember how long it took.
You can see a little of the orange coloring on his hind wings through the pupa. Note how much the leaves on the parsley have grown since the caterpillar went into the pupa stage. There were no leaves on the parsley so in 9-10 days it has grown back. The caterpillars had stripped all the leaves. More on that later, because as you are watching the unfolding of the pupa stage on the same container of parsley all the other stages of the butterfly are happening all over again, too.
Newly emerged from the pupa the butterfly is wet and crinkled. It attaches to the stem and waits to dry.
As they dry, they slowly open their wings to pump blood into their wings so they will be able to fly. 

Here you can tell this one is less wet and crinkled because he has been drying longer. He is still hanging on becoming stronger opening his wings every now and then. It  took two hours for this butterfly to be ready to fly away. 

Viola! My beautiful swallowtail butterfly makes his or her debut!  What a blessing to watch this process from beginning to the last phase. Following the metamorphosis from the egg, to the caterpillar, to the pupa or chrysalis and finally to the adult butterfly was fascinating.
 So as Paul Harvey said,"And now you know the rest of the story." 
However, I have more to show you that I think you'll be interested in.
 This is a small birdbath I observed at a local nursery. It was in their butterfly house. Butterflies assemble around puddles and soak up minerals they need. Butterflies drink by "puddling". They sip at shallow puddles of water in mud or sand instead of landing in large open water areas. I was able to purchase it. You can purchase butterfly pudding stones to invite butterflies to your garden on line at, UncommonGoods and Etsy. I also read butterflies like stale beer! I should try that. So far, I haven't seen any land in my butterfly puddler!
Much to my surprise and delight look at what was attached underneath! Yes, it is a monarch chrysalis or pupa! You can tell their pupas are different from the swallowtail butterflies. I told the lady that checked out my purchases if it hatched and I had a monarch butterfly she would hear me screaming 40 miles away!

I made this picture of a beautiful monarch in the same butterfly house back in May. The monarchs mated, laid eggs and several generations of monarchs began. Somewhere along the way, a pupa attached under the birdbath. Sadly, I found out my pupa is dead. Next year, I am going to order some monarch eggs or pupas. It is too late this year because the companies that supply them do not ship if the temperature is over 80 degrees. 

And just to show you how obsessive I became with viewing the metamorphosis the day the last pupa emerged all wet it had just started to rain. I was sitting in the chair holding a small umbrella while making pictures and called my husband to bring another umbrella and he rigged this set up. I was afraid the poor little butterfly wouldn't make it through a downpour. Nature doesn't need my help but I really wanted to watch the process. It took five hours for this one to fly away. 
I know this is getting lengthy but I was also able to observe the extruding of ostermeria! Ostermeria happens when a caterpillar feels threatened. When danger is detected, they quickly puff up, rear back, and eject bright orange ostermeria from their heads. Do you see the ostermeria on the top caterpillar?
I was able to provoke this one( I couldn't resist poking him slightly with a stick to see this first hand.)These organs spray a foul smell also. It was a slight odor but having read about it I was intrigued when I observed this.
This is a picture  of a black swallowtail extruding osmeteria from the book, Butterflies of Alabama, from Gosse Nature Guides, photography by Sara Blight and text by Paulette Ogard. I would love to meet these two ladies. This book was published in 2010 by the University of Alabama Press. 
Is ostermeria a new phenomenon for you? It was for me.
So, to sum up. How exciting it is to witness the life cycle of butterflies as God's creation first hand. I hope you have learned something from this post about the last stage of metamorphosis as well as the other three stages in my former post. Maybe you have been intrigued to witness this wonderful beauty first hand yourself. There are ways to experience and witness these stages for yourself. Many people raise butterflies inside their home( butterfly cases available at Hobby Lobby) or school classrooms. Kits are available on line. You can plant host plants in your own backyard and watch this amazing process for yourself. You can encourage butterflies  in your garden by planting nectar plants, host plants, and puddling stones. I promise it is rewarding. 
As I mentioned many swallowtail butterfly generations have been visible in one urn in my backyard. I'm still blown away with the complexity of it all!


  1. How wonderful to see the progress of hatching! Hope you get to see them flying around a lot!

  2. I was fully intrigued with the science and miracles of these various stages, Bonnie, and no, I had not heard of osmeteria. And here I thought it was so exciting just to see several fully emerged varieties of butterflies in my garden this past week (including a monarch)! Thank you for the lesson - very informative facts.

  3. Bonnie, yes I did read your previous post but this post tops that, this final stage of seeing the butterfly. I've seen the pupa on plants and just left them alone happy to see lots of butterfly's in the garden. So interesting and your dedication to witness all of this is moving. I do love the birdbath with the color, perfect for your lovely gardens..

  4. Bonnie,
    Your dedication to witness this event is so inspiring to me. I love my garden and butterflies so much, just as you do. So this is very exciting to me. I had no idea how this all took place! Thank you for being our eyes, ears and hearts for the joy of nature!

  5. Amazing! I enjoyed these pictures and learning more about the butterflies. You are to be commended for your perserverance!

  6. Absolutely amazing! I have a friend that raises monarchs and I just love the entire process.

  7. What lovely photos! That photo of the butterfly is gorgeous. I like your garden ornament, the puddling stone. What an excellent idea, especially if you enjoy watching butterflies. This is the first time I've ever seen one!

    Have a lovely week!

    Ricki Jill

  8. A beautiful post with the miracle of life in the making of a butterfly

  9. Bonnie, I am showing your post to Butch. He is a biology major with a heavy emphasis on wildlife. He is so fascinated by all of God's creatures! I could feel your excitement just reading your post. It is so informative and your iPhone took amazing photos of the process. The swallowtails are gorgeous! I must get a puddling stone...all gardeners want more butterflies flitting around! Thanks for sharing at Gardens Galore!

  10. I love the post Bonnie! I hadn't heard of osmeteria. I've been looking at a small butterfly puddling online at Gardener's Supply. I've been watching the Gulf fritillary flit about around the passion vine and keeping my fingers crossed the Monarchs stop at the milkweed. It is so amazing to watch the caterpillar to butterfly metamorphosis. ♥

  11. What an amazing process to see! Wow! Thanks for sharing all that you captured. It is truly amazing. God surely created some beautiful creatures. :-)

  12. Bonnie, the butterflies are beautiful! How fun to watch it emerge.

  13. I completely get your excitement! When I taught kindergarten, we planted a butterfly garden near the playground. The first grade released their classroom butterflies in it. I enjoyed it all as much as the kids did. I'm currently adding flowers to our front yard to increase butterfly visits. They are just so beautiful.

  14. Oh I've enjoyed seeing the process . Wow! Just beautiful colors . Hugs and blessings , Cindy

  15. I used to see lots of Monarchs but for the last couple of years none. A couple of days ago I was deadheading in the garden and there were 4 small ones hovering around the cone flowers. I was so excited and hope they will have a recurring presence. Great job on your photos.

  16. How amazing the photographs you captured as this butterfly revealed her beauty to you! Thank you for sharing at Celebrate Your Story!

  17. This belongs in a gardening magazine for sure. What gorgeous pictures of such a beautiful process. What an enjoyable post!

  18. Wow wow and wow Bonnie! Just incredible! You are a dedicated butterfly lover and expert! Fascinating, thank you for sharing this miracle of nature~

  19. So interesting and such a marvel to see. I love you sharing this very special post. Butterflies are so beautiful. The photography is amazing Bonnie.

  20. Bonnie, you get the best photos ever!! I love that you caught these beautiful butterflies.

  21. Your photographs of life's process are gorgeous and so lovely to see. The dedication and persistence it must take to capture these moments if phenomenal. Thank you for sharing it.

  22. This is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing.

  23. I was so pleased when I found this post. Just yesterday I found three swallowtail pupa on my pot of parsley on the deck. I had picked some a few days ago and thought the bare stems were from my breaking them, but the pupa may be eating the parsley - according to your observations. I tried to take pictures of the pupa but they are hidden under leaves of parsley and I haven't gotten good shots. I look forward to the chrysalis stage and then the births of hopefully, three healthy swallowtails! Thank you for sharing the pictures and your story.


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