My Digital Photography of
the Black Swallowtail from Larva to Butterfly
Swallowtail #1: Larva, Chrysalis and Butterfly
Black Swallowtail Larva
This swallowtail caterpillar was discovered by my parents on June 30, 2009 on a dill plant. I discovered that dill is one of the few plants they eat, others being fennel and citrus. It has something to do with the scent that they secrete from their osmeteria (commonly called stinkhorns). Unfortunately, I could not get a photo of the stinkhorns because it retracts them almost as soon as they are displayed. This is the first time I have ever seen one of these caterpillars in my area.
I also captured this tiny aphid on the dill. Look to the lower right.
Black Swallowtail Caterpillar in Preparation to Form Chrysalis
On July 4, 2009, the caterpillar got into position to make its chrysalis. It strung itself up by its midsection by strong silken threads.
Black Swallowtail Chrysalis
I was hoping so much to be able to photograph the process of the caterpillar forming its chrysalis, but unfortunately, the day after I saw the caterpillar attach itself to the dill stalk (photographed below), I had to leave for a trip to see my favorite band, Project Object. When I came back, it had already made the chrysalis which was photographed on July 9, 2009.
Black Swallowtail Butterfly
I really wanted to be there for its emergence, but from what I had read, it seemed as if there was only one brood of swallowtails per year in my area. I figured this one would be overwintering and emerging next spring. I sure was wrong. It emerged on July 17, 2009 and I was startled to find it fully opened up and setting right on my countertop (first 4 photos). I took a lot of photos of it indoors first on a bouquet of flowers...
I was going to release it later that afternoon. I had it outside on a butterfly bush and everything. Then it started to rain, so I recaptured it and let it spend the night with me in the house on a freshly cut butterfly bush piece. Here are the photos of its few minutes outdoors...
I took a few more photos of it once inside again...
I took a few more in the morning as the butterfly woke up with the sunshine coming in the window and began rapidly feeding on the butterfly bush.
Then I released it outside on a butterfly bush. It stayed there about a half hour. It was a little cloudy, but as soon as the sun hit the butterfly, it warmed up, fluttered its wings and took off into the sky. It soared way above the rooftops.
Black Swallowtail Butterfly #2
This poor butterfly never even had a chance. We had an unusually warm summer this year and this butterfly emerged on a 95 degree day. I think it dried up before its wings could even open up properly. I found it in the lawn, dead. It was actually in my fridge for about 3 weeks before I had a chance to photograph it on July 23, 2010.
Black Swallowtail Butterfly #3
Once again, as in Swallowtail #1, my parents found a caterpillar. This time, I didn't have time to photograph it, so I told them to leave it alone. It was on their clematis vine this time. It ended up making its chrysalis right there. I decided to take the chrysalis and photograph the butterfly once it emerged on July 9, 2011. I got some especially close photos of the scales making up the colors on the wings. They are very interesting. The peach/cream colors look like "sporks" up close, but the blue colors look more like oval sequins. There are also fine hairs on the wings near the abdomen. I also got closeups of the eyes, showing the facets, and the proboscis, showing some neat grooves. I let it go outside on the butterfly bushes.
Black Swallowtail Butterfly #4
My parents found a damaged chrysalis in their garden. I wasn't sure if it would make it to a butterfly. It did, but the butterfly's abdomen was damaged when it emerged on June 17, 2015. I thought it might still be able to survive, so I let it go on the butterfly bushes in the backyard. However, later in the afternoon, I found its wings on the ground. I think it was devoured by ants before it managed to fly away. I am not sure why there is so much liquid in on one of the antennas and a leg. It was derived from the butterfly itself.
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