What a celebration we had for the first beautiful warm day after a horrendous stretch of pounding rainstorms, hail and cold — two of our swallowtail butterflies emerged!
Number one came out in the morning. He’s an anise swallowtail butterfly that we raised from an egg we found on fennel in our garden. We let this guy sit inside for a bit, then after his wings had firmed up, we opened the cage and away he flew. Anise swallowtails are interesting, because they don’t emerge according to a set timetable (as monarch butterflies do). The swallowtails stagger their emergence, possibly to insure that some of them at least emerge at a time when there will be plenty of food for them. We have some swallowtail chrysalises in our butterfly nursery that date back more than 2 years.
You can tell they’re still viable because there’s movement inside if you touch them. After checking some of them, George noticed that another chrysalis had darkened, which they do when they’re getting ready to emerge. And shortly after that, number two came out!
I only got a few shots of these guys, but if you want to see my photos of the life cycle of the anise swallowtails, go to this gallery in my smugmug website. I have closeup shots of the entire process — from egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly. Oh, and we haven’t seen any monarch butterflies in our yard yet, and we don’t have any of them in our butterfly nursery, but you can see my photos of the life cycle of the monarch butterfly at this gallery. Happy Spring!