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Butterflies (Pt. 4)

July 19, 2010

Today (Sunday) was a big day for the caterpillars! I had no idea what was going to transpire, but I’m very glad everything worked out as it did so I had a chance to witness it and take lots of photos. I had figured everything would happen while I was asleep or at work.

If you don’t like closeup photos and videos of caterpillars shedding skin, you will want to skip this post. The photos are not just linked this time.

As you can see, all five are now in a chrysalis (or they are chrysalises? If that is the plural for it) and are officially in their pupa stage, if I’m remembering all the terms correctly. It started when one began moving and stretching, and minutes later it was coming out of its skin. I had imagined this would be gross to watch, but it was really neat! (I’m not sure why I worried since I used to watch my then pet snake shed, plus eat rats…and it was slightly larger than these caterpillars.)

Later I noticed a second had finished its process without me even seeing it. Then I managed to watch the other three. My day was not exactly productive, but it’s worth it.

I even got video! The quality isn’t great, but you get the idea, sort of. Beware, there is music, so check your computer’s volume. This video is sped up to nine times faster than reality. I downloaded some free editing software and it only let me download three songs for it, so that’s why it’s quiet at the end. 😀 How amazing are my video editing skills, though? (I obviously have very little experience with videos.)

Caterpillar shedding to chrysalis from J M on Vimeo.

[Don’t mind my reflection moving around there–I was taking photos while this was recording, and now I wish I had just sat there and blocked the light!]

So, in case you can’t tell, basically the skin splits right at the back to about the middle of his body, and his new body (or the chrysalis) expands out. The caterpillar twists a bunch to get the skin up to the top where it is connected. In three cases, that skin fell off to the floor of the cup, but in two it kind of got stuck on some silk, so hopefully it’ll fall off when I transfer them to their butterfly cage.


Here’s a closeup of the first one before and after. Well, almost after.. it’s not quite finished in that right-hand photo.

I hope you are finding this interesting and not too gross! I can never tell what people will like. I’m probably the most squeamish, but that makes me more aware of that possibility in readers. 🙂

The next step is to transfer them to their new home, which I’ll do in the next day or two. It’ll be about seven (to ten?) more days before they exit as butterflies, and I’m just hoping I am able to witness that as well!


Here’s one final photo of a chrysalis. Supposedly it changes colors and opacity over the days, so I’ll try to track that. I wish I had a macro lens, since these are pretty small (not even an inch long) and it’s tough to get decent photos.

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From → butterfly garden

5 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink

    This is bizarre and cool all at once! So now do you move them into the butterfly house? And how do you attach them? I loved the video and the fun music to accompany the caterpillar's “dance” moves. 🙂 Thank you! -R

  2. THIS IS SO EXCITING! Seriously, I can't wait for the next part! Thanks for sharing!

  3. R – yeah, I mentioned that I have to move them next. 🙂 I'll post about what I did in my next entry.

    Thanks, F!

  4. Fun! Love the little video. And the music! : )

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