Sunday, August 12, 2012

Black Swallowtail Metamorphosis Misty August Garden

Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes 

I will be sharing more of the magical Monarch Butterfly Metamorphosis . . .
 but first I want to go back to earlier this spring and share the striking 
Black Swallowtail Butterfly and its metamorphosis with you. 

 A male Black Swallowtail from last year . . . the first one I had the joy to raise.

I was delighted to eyed this female ovipositing this May. 
She may have overwinter here in her pupa. 

Once she flies away,
 I discover an egg attached to Bishop's weed growing along the path. 
Aegopodium podagraria is of the Apiaceae or carrot family. 
I wish for millions of Black Swallowtail butterflies, for perhaps they can help me 
manage the pernicious Bishop's weed.  

The dark head of the tiny caterpillar can be seen in this photograph. 
A new beginning about to emerge . . . 

Having its first meal. 

Second or third instar. 

The Black Swallowtail caterpillar chooses the underside of an orchid leaf to unveil her chrysalis.

A perfect female Black Swallowtail

Releasing a healthy female into the late May gardens . . . perhaps she will become acquainted 
with the lively male (below) already enjoying the garden milkweed. 

Male Black Swallowtail

There are many more Black Swallowtails flying about the gardens 
but I have not eyed another egg to bring inside. 
This was the first 'inside' complete metamorphosis for the 2012 season . . . 
a couple of months before I found my first Monarch egg in the garden path. 

I have shared more information on the Black Swallowtail Butterfly's life cycle
 in another post over at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. 

Now nearly half way into August . . . 
days go by bringing many scattered thunderstorms 
sometimes dropping heavy downpours . . . 
the gardens and trees so appreciate the rain.
Mornings are often misty, cool and soft.
Butterflies enjoy the sunny afternoons. 
I continue to see many Monarchs, Black Swallowtails 
and several other varieties of butterflies flitting about the native plants.
There is a small Monarch caterpillar community in my barn studio.
This morning I was working hard trying to capture a teeny caterpillar 
emerging from its egg, while a female Monarch was flying about just
outside the window laying eggs on milkweed plants. Other caterpillars were
molting, while one was about to spin its mat and node so that it can hang
and unveil its chrysalis. 
All this and more goes on within the small view of the garden above too . . . 
truly miraculous to observe natures never ending small wonders.

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