Early last August I blogged about how we were raising a Black Swallowtail caterpillar. He ate like a pig, and then spun his chrysalis. According to Wikipedia, the adult butterfly should have emerged from the chrysalis in less than 2 weeks. We waited and waited.
Things being as they are, the kids were playing Frisbee in the house, and the butterfly container got knocked to the ground (about a 4 foot fall). We set it back up on the fireplace mantle, and waited some more. Sadly, I figured it must be dead, a victim of an unintended accident. I put the container with the chrysalis out on our covered porch. We waited and watched for it to hatch all through the fall.
Soon it started snowing, and early winter was upon us. I wanted to throw it out, but my husband (who tagged Monarch butterflies as a child, through a research group based in Canada) insisted it was “overwintering” – that the chrysalis was just fine, and would hatch once warmer weather came in the spring. Yeah, right. I rolled my eyes, but my daughter was happy to hear it wasn’t dead, so I went along with it.
All winter, through bitter freezing temperatures, the container sat under a bench on our porch – a small brown chrysalis attached to a dead twig, with remnants of dead flowers carpeting the floor.
Last week my daughter brought home a small caterpillar from school. As part of a science unit, her class is hatching Painted Lady butterflies. There’s a big mesh tent set up in the classroom, and after each child’s caterpillar spins its chrysalis, they are placed inside while the kids eagerly wait for them to hatch. A couple extra caterpillars got sent home with kids, and soon her caterpillar had spun its chrysalis and I needed a bigger container for it to hatch in.
It was a very warm and breezy day as I headed out to the porch, and pulled out the container from last August with the old Swallowtail chrysalis. And lo and behold. There it was.