Category Archives: Chrysalis

Mourning Cloak’s… A Joy to Behold!

The Mourning Cloak, Nymphalis antiopa, is one of the most common butterflies to be found in many regions throughout the world. There are several reasons why this handsome flier is so prevalent, but one of the most influential factors is that it uses a vareity of well known host plants, such as the Poplar, Cottonwood, Willow and Elm. These ardent trees are often wide spread and ample in supply, so it is no surprise that the butterfly, which depends on them, is also happily represented.

Mourning Cloak’s, like other Tortoiseshells and Anglewings, overwinter as adult’s and do not migrate. This, along with their ability to efficiently absorb heat into their dark scales, contributes to their having a longer season in which to frequent our skies. These hearty fliers are often among the very first butterflies to be seen in the spring and one of the last to disappear from sight in the fall.

Besides being conspicuous in their adult stage, Mourning Cloaks, are also known for their gregarious social behaviors as caterpillars. It is clear that they support the “There is Safety in Numbers” philosophy. Mourning Cloaks eggs are most always laid by the female in large groups and remain in this close knit formation throughout their larval stage. Birds and other predators are sure to be frightened off by a rowdy crowd of up to 50 or more spiky red and black caterpillars who may menacingly shake the branch in unison when threatened.

Only after having filled their voracious appetites, moving together, stripping one branch after another of its foliage, do the larva part ways. Trees appear to be raining caterpillars when the Mourning Cloaks begin to drop from them like parachuters. It seems as if these stealthy crawlers are fleeing the scene of a crime when they free fall unto the ground quickly seeking to distance themselves from their host plant. After taking the plunge, the caterpillars will journey alone until they find a safe place to pupate, metamorphose from chrysalis to butterfly, and be earth bound travelers no more.

Nymphalis antiopa is a delightful species which spreads it’s wings throughout  many countries, populating parts of Europe, Asia and the North American Continent. In England, this butterfly is known as the Camberwell Beauty, but worldwide is called by many other names such as Grand Surprise and White Petticoat.

In North America, due to its resemblance to a traditional cloak worn when one is “in mourning”, it has been given the title Mourning Cloak, but no matter where or by whom this reddish-brown, cream and blue beauty is spied, I think all can agree that she is a not at all sorrowful, but instead a true joy to behold.

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Mystery Chrysalis CONTEST…Can you guess what am I am?


If a predator were to look closely at you, they might see the outlines of your wings, antennae or abdomen. They might even see
that you are an immobile butterfly in the making.
Defenses are few for a strung up statue…

-K. D’Angelo (from Butterfly Dimension)

Be the first to correctly identify which species of butterfly this chrysalis will become and WIN a set of 4 assorted Butterfly Note Cards!
(Spots of Color shown above).  Each signed by Award Winning Artist, Lorac
. Visit our Butterfly Shop to view other card styles available.

To enter the contest, leave us a comment with your “best guess”.  You will find the “comments” link at the top of this blog post and good luck!

Contest Ended  Midnight, June 30, 2010

The answer to the Mystery Chrysalis is shown below…


I am a Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) Buttterfly…. One of Mother Nature’s many wonderful mysteries set aflutter.

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Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

three snowflakes

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, it is the one that is the most adaptable to change. – Charles Darwin

Anise Swallowtail Chrysalis

Survival of the Chrysalis...This Anise Swallowtail chrysalis will just have to hang with the cool weather until the spring rays return.

Bronze Copper Butterfly Egg

Mom laid this Bronze Copper butterfly egg safely nestled in some dried leaves, close to where its host plant will come up in the spring.

butterfly snowflake 2

When reflecting on butterflies, visions of warm sunshiny days may fill one’s mind. It is not usual to think of a butterfly and to also invoke images of such things as snow, sleet or sub-zero temperatures. Many species of butterflies, however, have had to, over time, consider, adapt to and survive such wintry conditions.

It is true that some butterflies, such as the well known Monarch, spread their wings and flutter south to escape Old Man Winter, but various others are not so flighty. Take, for example, the Bronze Copper, it withstands the cool weather as a wee little egg. Curled-up leaves, buried deep beneath the snow, create the ideal escape and lodging for caterpillars such as Tawny Emperors, Fritillaries, Crecents and Checkerspots.

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

Mourning Cloak butterflies need to find shelter in a wood pile or under some bark to survive the first frost.

Swallowtails, Sulphurs and Whites, bear the hardships of winter by hiding out and undergoing metamorphosis as a chrysalis. Red-Spotted Purples and other Admirals build their very own shelter, called a hibernaculum. This is a miniature abode made just for hibernating as its name suggests. Mourning Cloaks, Commas and Question Marks, face the wintertide as adult butterflies. They look for a place to safely hibernate, seeking such refuges as wood piles or tree bark.

Which ever way they do it, hats, scarves and mittens off to the amazingly adaptable butterflies who endure Jack Frost’s torment. Come springtime, I think I can speak for all, in saying how grateful we are for your tenacious and triumphant perseverance!

butterfly snowflake 2

Twany Emperor Caterpillar

A Tawny Emperor caterpillar searches for a cozy curled leaf where it can safely hibernate under a blanket of snow.

A Red-Spotted Purple caterpillar emerges from its self-made winter shelter or hibernaculum.

A Red-Spotted Purple caterpillar emerges from its self-made winter shelter or hibernaculum.

three snowflakes

butterflies sunflower snow

Above are photographs of the butterflies featured pictorially in this blog, going clockwise… Red Spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis), Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton), Bronze Copper (Lycaena hyllus) & Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) at center.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!


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Caterpillar Camouflage Revealed

Peek-a-boo…  I see you!

? caterpillar

I know I resemble a snake or a manatee but can you guess who I really am? Do you know exactly what species I will turn out to be. Leave a comment with your best guess, but hurry I will be revealing my true identity soon!

brown cat

I am starting to change… Do you recognize me still? I am a different color now but have the same melancholy lavender eyespots. I have turned brown because I am no longer grazing and resting upon green leaves. Now I am a stealthy climber looking for a place to safely switch my identity. I don’t want anybody to see me as I move about the dark colored branches.

chrysalis 3angles

Ok, I am guessing you may really have a hard time knowing me now. I have not only lost my lavender eyes but my legs too. Scary Looking Tree Bark is my new look, quite the trend in the Chrysalis World and camouflaging too! Hope you like it and if you think this is cool just wait until you see what I do next!

Pale Swallowtail

Oh, there’s a bit of chill in the air now and the days have grown shorter! I have a feeling if I emerge from my chrysalis at this time I won’t have any friends to flutter with. Think I will stay as I am over winter, patiently waiting, resting  inside my cozy shelter.

pale swallowtail

I will dream of the suns warm rays gently awakening me from my slumber. I can feel the winds raising me up to dance with the heavens. Upon bright wings, gracefully I will soar, adorning skies and embracing sweet flowers.  I am boundless and free as a Butterfly.

I am a Pale Swallowtail Butterfly
(Papilio eurmedon Lucas)

Look to the skies and watch for me and my friends, we will be in flight come springtime.

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Recipe for Sunshine…

Ever wondered how to make sunshine? Mother Nature knows how!

Below is “her” recipe for the Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly…


Start with an itsy bitsy egg. Set it on the tenderest bud of a Cassia senna plant until it turns the color of sunshine.

cloudless cat tiny

Then watch closely as the egg comes to life and a tiny bright caterpillar emerges.

Let the little yellow guy munch away at the Cassia senna plant for as long as he likes.

cloudless caterpillars

Notice how he grows bigger and then begins to flaunt the green hues of his host plant.

He leaves just a touch a of his sunshine showing through in his stripe.

Now spy him turn curiously into the letter J.

And magically mimic a lovely leaf.

Then Voila, Out comes the Sunshine…

Enjoy!

Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly (Phoebis sennae)

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Camouflage is a game we all like to play!

Camouflage is a game we all like to play, but our secrets are as surely revealed by what we want to seem to be as by what we want to conceal. Russel Lynes


anise swallowtail chrysalises These two Anise Swallowtail chrysalises (Papilio zelicaon) express their individuality through color. Despite their being raised at the same time and under the same conditions, one chose to be green & yellow, while the other opted to become brownish black.

While in the chrysalis stage, butterflies, often attempt to visually mimic the hues of the surrounding foliage. Regardless of the colors chosen, one can certainly appreciate their efforts to camouflage themselves!

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The Gulf Fritillary, a young artist’s view…

The Gulf Fritillary

gulf frit 2

Divine creation can be seen painted on the canvas of a butterflies wing…© Kristen D’Angelo

Artists, young and old alike, love to capture the beauty of butterflies.

 Gulf Frit Drawing

Above, Elena, age 8, illustrates the Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) with it’s host plant Passion Vine (Passiflora). Can you spot the eggs, caterpillar and chrysalis hidden amongst the lovely purple flowers on the drawing?

blue passion vine

Learn more about the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly


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Inside the Cabbage White’s Family Album

 

Cabbage White Butterflies

Cabbage Whites

Cabbage White Family
Cabbage White Eggs

Just one day old…aren’t we cute!

The Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) is one of the most common travelers to frequent our skies. Due to its abundance this delicate white butterfly is often overlooked and sometimes even thought of as a pest. Carrying a non-native stamp upon wing, it was introduced into the North American continent from Europe in the early 19th century.

Cabbage, hence its name, nasturtium and cultivated mustards are among this species favorite hosts and because these, and other host plants, are widely available this opportunistic flier has thrived.  Although the Cabbage White is often met with disdain, I am kind to this cheery and ambitious butterfly when it visits my garden. -K.D’Angelo

It's my birthday..a whole week old..so soft & fuzzy too!

It’s my birthday..a whole week old..so soft & fuzzy too!

Teenagers! Come on everyone goes through a gawky stage...

Teenagers! Come on everyone goes through a gawky stage…

cabbage white on lavender

Look at me now… I can FLY!

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