Monday, April 6, 2009


Well, it looks like I was right about that Mourning Cloak larvae being on the brink of forming a chrysalis - yesterday he spun an anchor on a grass stem and started hanging upside down. Gradually throughout the day he seemed to become fatter near the anchor and the pseudo-feet (the little nubs a caterpillar uses to move the part of its body beneath its little real feet) became hollow. By morning it had shuffled off its old exoskeleton, revealing a gray, spiky chrysalis.

Now, according to internet resources, the butterfly should emerge in 10-15 days, depending on temperature (warmer = faster development). However, I leave on a cruise this Sunday, so it will certainly emerge while I am away on the cruise and I do not return for 12 days. To remedy this, I have an insect home which was supplied by a "Raise Your Own Praying Mantis" kit. It has net-sides and clear plastic sides. I never did raise the mantises because apparently it is very intensive, such as raising your own fruit flies to feed to the mantises, and over 200 mantises hatch from your provided egg case. I will place the chrysalis inside the enclosure, and instruct Kit on how to feed it.

Here is an easy-to-make butterfly feeding station:
Requires: 1 sponge, sugar, water, fruit (juicy preferred), saucer or plate.
1. Mix warm water and sugar - 2 teaspoons per 8 oz of water - then set aside to cool
2. Slice fruit to expose juicy segments, set on saucer or plate
3. Cut sponge to an appropriate size and soak up the sugar water with it so that it is still dripping and set on the saucer next to the fruit
4. Place in an area accessible to butterflies and wait
5. Extra step: decorate the saucer with colors that appeal to butterflies, such as pink, red, purple, or yellow. Bee colors, for those who are interested, tend to be whites and blues.

In my case, I (well, Kit) will be placing the saucer directly into the enclosure and that will be the butterfly's food until I return. The fruit will need to be changed every so often, and the sponge re-moistened. Here is the completed butterfly home.

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