Black Swallowtail unfurled

Finally metamorphosed

Remember that little Black Swallowtail caterpillar I kept in the house since August?  The one that crawled from the living room dill plant up the curtain and turned into a chrysalis, suspended from our curtain for weeks?  I gave up on it after a few weeks.  I read somewhere that a chrysalis would take at most two weeks to turn to a butterfly.  I waited for a month, kept checking on it every day, but nothing happened.  After two months, I took the mummified chrysalis off the curtain and gave it to Bill.  We both were saddened by the notion that we might have killed the little guy.

The empty cocoon he left behind.
Black Swallowtail on my hand

Surprise!!!!   I was home today, cleaning up the whole house.  At one point I got to Bill’s desk and saw a Black Swallowtail on it.  I thought  he had picked up a dead butterfly from outside and put it on his desk.  But, when I tried to move it out of the way, the butterfly moved it wings.  I was spooked.  It is the end of November and the temperature outside is below 50 degree…where did it come from?   Then I realized that the little Black Swallowtail had just come out of its cocoon.  The empty cocoon was still on Bill’s desk.

On a Jasminum azoricum in our basement

I let him crawl on my finger and took him down to the basement where we have flowering plants.  I don’t know how long he will last.  I can’t put him outside since there is nothing out there to eat and there’s frost every morning.  There are a few jasmines, Sweet Almond Verbena, and Lantana still blooming in the basement and it’s definitely warmer than outside.  But, how long will he survive?

As much as I’m happy to see it became a butterfly, I’m saddened that I cannot do much for it.  If it hadn’t held off for three months, it would be outside enjoying all the flowers in our garden.

I don’t know how long a chrysalis is supposed to survive in that state, but this particular one took more than three months to become a butterfly.  But become a butterfly he did and that’s dedication.

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