Greetings, I am new here and in this my first post, i would like to introduce you, in a small way, to my small garden. The other day i was emailing with a friend in India who lives in the same climate zone as i do. We are both gardeners and grow many of the same plants. We were trying to imagine our gardens without all the various critters that make their homes and/or visit our gardens, but we could not. It was impossible to imagine. So here, from egg to adult is one of my garden regulars.
Ah ha! What have we here? A small cluster of many clusters of eggs have appeared on the Aristolochia vine
Ooooooh, little caterpillars. Caterpillars hatched in clusters have a tendency to be sociable with one another. These caterpillars are molting together in this image. They also eat together, travel from place to place together, sleep together, until it is time to pupate. Singly laid caterpillars do not have the same social tendencies.
Such cute little chums.
Even when they are quite large and nearly ready to pupate, bigger chums. They are not short of food in this photo. They just like to be together. Hmmmmmmm, i wonder what kind of butterflies they will be
Amazing chrysalises are either green or brown and look like gargoyles to me. Now we wait for approximately 15 days to see what will come out. No fair looking ahead, but some of you will likely know after seeing the caterpillars.
This one exited from the top of the chrysalis with wings crumpled up (as all this species do). After about 15 minutes the wings are fully extended as in this photo, but it may be another hour or so before the wings are strong enough for a first test flight. Now we can see that this is a Polydamas Swallowtail butterfly (Battus polydamas).
Just about ready for flight, we have a good view of the thorax and also the underside wing pattern.
And here we see the top wing pattern; a velvety black color with yellow markings.
I have come to know these caterpillars and butterflies very well over a period of a few years. Colima is one of its prime breeding areas so when they arrive, it is not a few at a time, but hundreds at a time. They are sweet caterpillars, but they are also very tough, as are the butterflies and they have a good survival rate. The host vines are Aristolochias. In the USA, they are known in parts of Texas and Florida but don't travel much farther north than that. What wild garden things make your heart sing?