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Empty chrysalis syndrome

Our black swallowtails finally emerged and left. Having read that they remained as chryslids for only 8-10 days we had come to believe that they were planning to winter over with us, since they had gone into that state while we were still up at Walloon, 14, 15, and 18 days ago. We were surprised and excited, then, to find one of hte shells empty on Sunday afternoon. Having missed the take off of Larry, our first caterpillar turned black swallowtail, we were determined to keep a closer eye on Curly Parsley and Moe so as not to miss the great show. to give them more room we had tied their smaller sticks to longer ones and propped them in an open (never used) bird feeder on our deck table.

This morning we were finally rewarded. Right after eclosing the butterfly has a body distended with fluid and wings folded tightly against the body. They then pump the fluid out of their abdomen and into the veins of their wings to spread them open. These two eclosed probably 4-5 minutes apart, although we missed Moe (on the right) emerging. This picture was taken at 8:48am.

Just four minutes later at 8:52 Curley Parsley (on the left) has significantly altered his appearance. The chrysalis is still there on the stick. Notice that it is no longer dark in color now that the black butterfly is out.

A closer look at Moe so you can see the veins running through her wings. Curly Parsley and Moe were both females, a specific that can be determined by the spot formation on their wings—big yellow spots on the male, smaller yellow spots on the female.

Here is Moe stretching out her proboscis, making sure she's ready to get nectar from the plants she finds.

Stretching and sunning. This was right before Moe took off. Curly Parsley (on the right here) wasn't that far behind time wise, but she stuck around for another 30 minutes.

This is pobably best chance we've ever had, and probably will ever have, to take such a close look at a butterfly.

And just two final shots of Curly Parsley before she took off to look for nectar plants and a mate. Good luck Curly.


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