Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chrysalis Camouflage

As I was walking through the garden this past weekend, I stopped to look at the ailing weeping willow tree in the middle of Max's Garden. We didn't know whether or not it would survive last winter, after it was struck with bacterial wetwood disease last spring. It's still here, but it's not healthy and it really is just a matter of time before we need to bite the bullet and take it out.

I was explaining all of this to one of our weekend house guests, and as I was showing him where I'd scraped away part of the bark (and then some) and treated it with bleach, something caught my eye. Being near-sighted comes in handy sometimes.

There, perfectly camouflaged, was a butterfly chrysalis. It wasn't large, maybe an inch or so in length, and it looked familiar, but I couldn't identify it for sure. I took a couple of photographs of it this evening and from what I can guess, it's the chrysalis of a Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta).

Red admiral butterfly
I've seen several of them flying around the garden in the last couple of weeks, after a noticeable absence since spring, when they're one of the first butterflies of the season that we see. The Red Admiral migrates in spring and fall, usually spending winters in Texas and Florida, although they have been known to hibernate further north. They typically have two broods, March through October.

I'm going to watch this and see what happens. Once the chrysalis is formed, it's usually two to three weeks before the adult butterfly ecloses (emerges).  Like the monarch, the wings of the adult butterfly can be seen through the chrysalis a few days before eclosure.


Amy Junod said...

I now know what little guys were munching along side my swallowtail caterpillars. I sent one home with my sis and she said it emerged as a moth. I have a chrysalis that looks just the same so I am pretty sure it not a moth. Thanks for posting. Pretty pics!

Victoria Williams said...

So cool. I'm jealous of all the chrysalis' I'm seeing on posts lately. Thanks for sharing this.

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