Remember last summer, when Evie was obsessed with a couple of caterpillars she caught in the garden?
She had been catching butterflies all summer, but they mostly just fanned their wings a lot and then died. It wasn’t until she got the caterpillars when things really got interesting. Instead of just sitting there, they would crawl around and actually do things (by which I mean, poop. Oh boy, the hours that we’d while away, just watching those caterpillars poop!). Evie had to actually take care of them like pets; cleaning the cage, collecting fresh food for them to eat, etc.
Despite all of her hard work, I never expected them to form chrysalises. It was like a science project just magically appeared before our eyes. Totally rewarded all the work she put into it.
You can imagine our disappointment when we learned they wouldn’t emerge until next spring. It seemed impossible that we could keep these things healthy and hearty through an entire winter. Since they’re used to wintering outdoors, we had to keep them outdoors, which meant Evie’s little bug box has been sitting on our back porch this entire time. It’s been periodically buried in snow, kicked, flooded with rainwater, squeezed by a 3 year old, upended, kicked, frozen by -30 degree windchills, squeezed by a 4 year old, kicked, put back together upside down…just about anything that could happen to these chrysalises, did happen to them.
There was absolutely NO. WAY. any living thing could have survived it.
We were so absolutely sure these things were dead 5 times over. After spring came and went, we had finally convinced Evie that it wasn’t happening. However, we just kind of left them sitting out there; they had been there so long, they are just part of the scenery these days.
9 months she cared for those things, shepherding them through their entire life cycle. And we were there to watch it take it’s first, tentative flight.
Be free, you beautiful Eastern Black Swallowtail! Be free and have babies of your own, so that generation upon generation of future Swallowtails can be captured and summarily starved to death and dumped on our back porch by the most vicious predator known to butterflies.