Caractacus the mystery caterpillar has revealed his true identity at last. As a caterpillar, he puzzled us by varying the usual coloration of a monarch:
But in every other respect he acted like a monarch. He ate milkweed, grew, spun a silk button, hung in a J, and formed a green chrysalis that gradually became more transparent until this morning it looked like this.
This afternoon, we observed him emerging from the chrysalis. It was exciting for me! — I’ve never been able to see a butterfly in that moment before. The rim of the bottle hides some of the action, but I took a video that captures the basics (as well as the excited whispers of my entire family):
(I hope to improve on this… I should have some more opportunities to film emerging butterflies in our aquarium.)
After a few hours of drying and hardening his wings, and a few experimental wing fans…
we put him outside and wished him well. He’s a male monarch, as the two black swellings/spots on the wing veins reveals.
Best wishes on your journey south, Caractacus!
In other news, Goliath, our smallest caterpillar, formed his chrysalis today. He was only 4 mm long when we brought him home.
But since 8/30 he grew to just over an inch and a half. We put another caterpillar roughly his size in the jar with him, and the two became buds. They ate milkweed together. They dozed together. They spun their silk buttons together…
Then hung out together:
Then went into their chrysalises together.
My daughter is convinced that they’re a male and a female, in love.
That ends the era of replenishing our milkweed stock every day (which I am very glad about); these were the last two caterpillars to go into the pupa stage. Now we sit back and wait. Two butterflies — thirteen more to go.
Last but not least, we went back to the flooded park where we found all the caterpillars, and it had dried up some. We saw hardly any caterpillars, but there were a few. And we saw a couple of butterflies looking fresh against the muddy water. A few is better than none.