Saturday, September 25, 2010


A few weeks ago we found signs that something was munching on the leaves of the Meyer Lemon tree in our backyard. The culprit, it turned out, was a strange-looking caterpillar called an "Orange Dog" (because of their appetite for citrus tree leaves) that would one day make a marvelous transformation into a Giant Swallowtail Butterfly.

In my screened-in porch, I created a habitat of leaves and sticks in a tray for the caterpillar and a few days later it formed a chrysalis on one of the sticks. Within the chrysalis, which looked just like a dead branch, the caterpillar would make its metamorphosis over the next 14 days.

One morning I walked out on my porch and there it was, a stunning Giant Swallowtail Butterfly! At some point earlier that morning, it had emerged from the chrysalis and flew up onto my screen, where it was drying its delicate wings in the sunlight. The next day, it flew out into the world, landing on our bougainvillea blooms before fluttering off into the bright blue sky.

Empty Giant Swallowtail chrysalis

Giant Swallowtail chrysalis Day 4

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly chrysalis Day 1

Orange Dog caterpillar turning into a chrysalis

Orange Dog caterpillar

Orange Dog caterpillar

Evidence of the "Orange Dog" caterpillar eating the leaves of the tree.

Our Meyer Lemon Tree

1 comment: