Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Valentine's Day Present

I know I owe you updates about the Butterfly Gardens dating back to last November, and I don't like to get things out of chronological order, but I can't wait to post about what happened last Saturday, Valentine's Day:

Judi's Zebra Longwings emerged from their chrysalises!

These are Judi's first Zebra Longwings (the Florida state butterfly), so this is pretty exciting. It started some weeks ago when Sandy at Sun Harbor Nursery gave Judi some Zebra eggs that had been laid on one of their passion vines. Six of the eggs hatched, and Judi raised the caterpillars. The Zebra caterpillar is something to look at -- all white and black except for unexpectedly orange feet:

Zebra Longwing Caterpillars

Five of the six caterpillars survived to form chrysalises. The Zebra chrysalis is something to see: It has two thin extensions that extend downward, and, just above those, two dots with a metallic gleam, like gold:

Zebra Longwing Chrysalis

When you turn the chrysalis upside down (as I will do for you electronically here, so you don't get a crink in your neck trying to look at your monitor upside down), they look like devils with horns and burning eyes:

Zebra Longwing Chrysalis Posing as the Devil

And, finally, on Valentine's Day, they began to emerge. We were actually lucky enough to catch one of the emergences. Some of these pictures aren't quite as sharp as they could be, but you might still enjoy seeing this amazing event (click on any picture in this post for a larger version). The butterfly emerges from the bottom of the chrysalis, head-first (i.e., upside down):

Emerging, 1 of 7

Emerging, 2 of 7

Emerging, 3 of 7

Emerging, 4 of 7

Emerging, 5 of 7

Emerging, 6 of 7

Emerging, 7 of 7



This is an incredible butterfly. It has the wingspan of a B-52 bomber. Here's one sitting on Judi's hand as we wait for it to take flight:

On Judis Hands

And here's a picture Judi took of one sitting in her viburnum tree:

The Zebra Longwing
Photo: Judi



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