Monday, July 15, 2013

Mourning Cloak Butterflies' Destructive Babies

Or... Raising Indigenous Butterfly Larvae.

This story begins with our aspen being eaten -- literally munched away from the top down by nasty little babies. At first we thought it must be tent caterpillars, but since we couldn't see any tent-webs, we examined a little more closely. And then... we found this:

(photo from

So we put some in a jar with some of the young shoots from the aspen. After consuming about half of them, they attached themselves to the underside of the jar's lid, rim, and the branches inside, and began to form chrysalises.
Here is one of the caterpillars just newly hanging upside down, with a completed chrysalis.
And then... happily on a day we were teaching a Wild Art Camp, the first butterfly emerged!
We did see it take flight, but were not prepared to take photos as it ably fluttered up into the bare aspen branches. So here is a photo from Encyclopedia Britannica... this is what our caterpillar became!

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