Search This Blog

Sunday, April 25, 2010

E-Closure on Pupa Story

Back on March 7, we found a mourning cloak pupa on our patio that hadn't attached to a vertical surface, and had it's final shed still attached. On the advice of Cindy to not give up on this pupa, I rigged it to a stick on a shoebox so it could hang vertically in a more or less natural way. Cindy recommended using spider silk which would be sticky and elastic and a completely natural way to hang the pupa. The day I was doing this was windy and it was hard to gather the silk and maybe just maybe my fingers are too clumsy. Anyway, I decided to unravel some fine hemp string and used a strand of that, plus a few tiny dabs of white glue to keep it all in place on the stick-on-a-shoebox. I made sure to only apply the glue to the area where the string crossed the old caterpillar molt, not the pupa itself.

For the record, the pupa wriggled like its life was in peril when I handled it, so I knew the creature (half-caterpillar, half-butterfly) was still with me in this endeavor to give it the chance to fly.

So the pupa hung there across its shoebox of fate until yesterday about 10:00 am. We were having a yard sale, and I was dashing inside to get more coffee, when I noticed with a startle that the butterfly had eclosed; quite recently by the crumpled look of its wings. The wings unfurl, and the butterfly tests its proboscis, over the next photos taken within 1/2 hour. By the end of the half hour, a drop of meconium was passing.

Next morning the butterfly was still there. You can see the stain of meconium on the floor of the shoebox, then the beautiful fully unfurled Nymphalis antiopa waiting for the moment to fly, about 1:00 in the afternoon. The next time I looked, it was gone.

Not sure if this butterfly perched on our truck is the one, there are so many of them cruising the yard and especially the melaleuca tree which is in bloom.

Thanks, Cindy, for your encouragement to give this one butterfly its chance. It turns out to be a very good year for mourning cloak butterflies.


Cindy said...

I'm delighted by the outcome of this story. Also, hemp enthusiasts everywhere are (or at least should be) applauding yet another use for this versatile fiber ;)

Katie (Nature ID) said...


Barbara said...

Wonderful story!