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Our Giant Swallowtail Story

About a month ago I plucked a gooey Orange Dog Caterpillar from  one of our baby Clementine orange trees.

Kinda gross, huh?

 

Yeah, before I touched it with a stick to make it poke out its tiny orange horns, it looked like a bird dropping.  This ugly masquerade is to fool birds so they don’t decide to have caterpillar for lunch.  You can see what the little guy was dining on…and that is precisely why I removed him.  Caterpillars are ravenous, and though he would not do much damage to a mature citrus, he and his cousins could seriously damage my tree which only has about 20 leaves.

If allowed to munch without interruption, the ugly orange dog becomes the beautiful giant swallowtail butterfly.  I admit that I stomped on a few of these little guys before deciding to grow this one in a Ball jar with a mesh lid to watch him develop. Ironically, I had to snip a few branches off another citrus to feed my hungry little caterpillar.  He spent a few days climbing and gobbling, and then attached himself to the side of the glass.  We weren’t sure at this point whether he was alive or not.

Desiring to share the joy with our 4 year old granddaughter, we held out hope.  And yesterday,  one month after the capture, Jim handed me the jar with a smile on his face…our baby was born!  Here is the empty chrysalis.

Time to let him go.

See how his wings are still curled in the shape of the chrysalis?

What a beautiful creature!  For a few minutes we just looked at each other.

And it seemed as though he would stay put.

And then the magic moment came…

He and I share a love for yellow!

I was called away to other tasks.  And so was he.  I actually saw a couple of these beauties doing a little flight dance later in the day and I wondered if my little guy had already found his mate.

A few weeks ago, I took a photo of  a swallowtail in my garden and turned it into a Swallowtail Butterfly Coloring Page for my grand children.  I thought I’d share it here for others to enjoy.  Click on the link above to download.  For more information on the stages of a butterfly, Click here:

I’m sharing this post on a blog hop.  To read more interesting stories about gardening, farming and homesteading arts, follow these links:

 Coop Hop

And here Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop

 

2 Responses to “Our Giant Swallowtail Story”

  1. Margarethe says:

    Next time you try this make sure the chrysalis hangs, not lies on the bottom of your jar. Then give the hatchling something to climb up on. He needs to be able to dry his wings while they are spread out straight, then you will get a healthy butterfly that can actually survive and fly.

    • stepintoourgarden says:

      Thanks for the note. Actually, The chrysalis did hang on the side. I took out all the branches and other items in order to photograph the butterfly before releasing in back into our garden.

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