Thirteen Shades of Orange!

Baby

One of the G.F. (Gulf Fritillary) cats (caterpillars) is now a chrysalis. It is Friday, May 22, 2015. While counting the rest of the cats, I find a second chrysalis with no idea when it formed. It seems to have appeared out of the magical unseen. There are a total of nine C & C (cats and chrysalides) I’m keeping track of with a mark on the calendar on when to expect a butterfly to emerge in great hope I can see the miracle.

Chrysalis

On Saturday, May 23, 2015, I find another G.F. in the head down ‘J’ position in early morning. My photo shows another cat in the background. By late morning the ‘J’ cat is almost a complete chrysalis. I can still see his caterpillariness as he moves and twists. These cats have done a number on the passion vine. I will need to take cuttings and start more plants as this population boom continues.

J

I read about using a large pickle jar as a temporary incubator so I can see the butterfly emerge without having to move leaves and stand on my head. On second thought, I would prefer a net enclosure like the ones that display the cats and chrysalides and butterflies so beautifully at The Butterfly Estates. Their setup is topnotch and they explain information in a way that encourages everyone who visits to want to try creating a habitat at home. I check a few stores and find exactly what I’m looking for! I would have preferred white, but it’s navy blue, as close to perfect as I can get.

I really like how the butterfly cage has a zippered top and zippered side which allow me to trim a branch with a cat, or use a small potted host plant with a cat, put both in the net enclosure until he forms his chrysalis. I can release the butterfly within a few hours of emerging and have the pleasure to watch him fly. It’s sort of selfish, but since they don’t seem to be on my schedule and I’m not on theirs, we compromise.

A small plastic puddling dish with rocks and sand is now buried near the nectar plants. Eventually I’d like to get something more like a birdbath dish to give the flying wanderers a place to rest their weary wings and puddle together. It would be fun to see their antics.

Sunday, May 24, 2015, One of the cats didn’t make it. I notice a very thick silk attachment and just the molted ‘skin’ of the cat. I did not see him there before now. The evidence is down low in the plant near the soil. Usually they don’t get that close to the soil. The fourth G.F. is in J mode. I account for all five cats and the other three chrysalides, not counting the deceased one. The cats are eating ravenously and from their size, about two inches long, will most likely form their chrysalides tomorrow. As I look over the damage to the poor passion vine, I discover four new cats! Thirteen total, and I’m certain I have not found them all.

Baby 2

Copyright Patricia Westbrook All Rights Reserved

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Butterflies and Caterpillars Oh My!

Gulf Fritillary

The late start out the door is irritating, since I planned to get up with the sun, sip coffee in my lawn chair while watching the first butterfly in my new butterfly garden, the Gulf Fritillary, emerge. Yesterday the chrysalis twisted into a tight curl and I wondered: was he struggling or impatient? I mentioned to my friends over last night’s late dinner that today might be the day. Today marks eight days since the chrysalis formed.
Of course, the first thing I find after stepping outside is the passion vine. I peer deeply into where the Gulf Fritillary chrysalis is hidden. Continue reading