Like any proud new mom, I took lots of photos, but time with my “baby” was fleeting.
I was told that butterflies generally emerge from their chrysalis in the morning, so once I had found a swallowtail caterpillar and brought it, in chrysalis stage, onto my back porch, I spent the past several mornings keeping a close eye on the “hatchery,” a converted, never-used pet carrier.
Being the free spirit my black swallowtail appeared to be, though, it decided on mid-afternoon, 10 days after it formed its chrysalis.
The images I hoped to photograph didn’t materialize as I envisioned. Once I opened the pet carrier, my butterfly flew onto the screen of our porch, and the move to the fragrant, just-opened phlox outdoors was even more short-lived.
Rather than nectaring on the flowers, my swallowtail flew off into the wild blue yonder, with an upward velocity I didn’t imagine was possible.
At least I know I “raised” a healthy flier. And, with plentiful Queen Anne’s lace and other flowers that black swallowtails favor, perhaps I will see its return to the backyard where I first found it as a very hungry caterpillar.
Learn the differences between swallowtail and monarch caterpillars and see more images of the backyard black swallowtail, below: (photos © Cindy Hadish/Homegrown Iowan)