Something Happier for a Sunday

I feel like I need to replace my doom and gloom post from Friday with something cheerier.  I’m not going to be able to get the maps for the Dragonfly Swarm Project year-end report up today as I’d hoped, but instead I want to share a photo of part of our natural world, a reminder that the world is an unbelievably beautiful place teeming with life.  This is a black swallowtail chrysalis:

Black swallowtail pupa

Black swallowtail pupa, Papilio polyxenes, taken with an iPhone

We had the caterpillar in a cage for a program at work a while back and it transformed into a pupa inside the cage.  Now it’s sitting there, massively reorganizing  its entire body and building a new body through the winter months.  This immobilized stage represents the nigh-miraculous transformation between this…

Black swallowtail caterpillar

Black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillar, taken with a Nikon D80 with a Nikkor 70-300mm zoom kit lens

… and something that resembles this (because I don’t have a photo of an adult black swallowtail and I have to substitute a black form eastern tiger swallowtail)…

Eastern tiger swallowtail black form

Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) black form, taken with a Nikon D80 and a Nikkor 70-300mm zoom kit lens

You all know that I’m not the biggest butterfly lover, but even I will admit that being able to transform from a plant munching little worm into a beautiful, winged sugar fiend is a pretty neat trick.   If that doesn’t make you appreciate this amazing planet we live on and the myriad forms of life that surround us, I’m not sure what will.

I took the photo of the chrysalis with a new little photo gadget that I’m very excited about.  I’ll share the details in a future post, so look for that, coming soon!

Enjoy your Sunday everyone!

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Unless otherwise stated, all text, images, and video are copyright © C. L. Goforth
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11 thoughts on “Something Happier for a Sunday

  1. I thought that the idea that caterpillars liquidated their bodies was something of a misnomer. I know that some butterflies retain enough intact muscle tissue during their pupation that they can scrape across their cocoon to make a noise when they are disturbed. A local species of skipper can actually crawl around in pupa form (in an admittedly limited fashion). The caterpillar makes a tube in the host plant, and the pupa can wriggle up and down the tube to stay at a good temperature. That requires that it stay pretty intact.

    • I am not an expert on metamorphosis and none of the insects I study are holometabolous anyway, so I could be a bit wrong about the reorganization of the tissues in Lepidoptera pupae. I’ve read several things that have said that there is massive reorganization during the pupal stage, but perhaps the liquification metaphor isn’t quite accurate. Now I feel like I need to check my facts better, rather than just spewing out the things I’ve heard from a variety of entomological sources… In the meantime, I’m going to reword that section just a bit so that I’m sure it’s accurate.

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