A couple of weeks ago I happened to notice a large Black Swallowtail caterpillar munching away on the dill in our garden.
I was happy to know that at least one caterpillar had made it to its final instar. We had seen many more in their earlier stages and then they were gone. We suspected they were killed by the wasps that were hanging out in the garden.
If there was one survivor, there might be more, so I searched and found another fully grown caterpillar in the fennel. I made a mental note to come back the next day to check for chrysalises.
It was probably more like a couple of days when I remembered to go look. First I searched around the dill, but couldn't find the caterpillar or a chrysalis. But in the fennel, right in the spot where I had last seen the caterpillar, was a beautiful green chrysalis.
It was well hidden—buried in the fennel fronds and perfectly colored for camouflage. I might not have noticed it if I hadn't been looking for it. In the photo above, I lifted the stem it was attached to so I could see the underside. Notice the way it is attached with two stands of thread at the top.
I began to check it daily, watching for signs of color change, hoping to catch it when the butterfly would emerge. John was the one that noticed it looked a little darker on Saturday. Then on Sunday afternoon, he called me to come quickly and to bring the camera.
There he was, a fresh-from-the-chrysalis Black Swallowtail butterfly. You can see how deep in the fennel he was, his empty chrysalis shell beneath him.
I pinched away some of the fennel fronds for a better look. The large size of the yellow band of spots indicates that this butterfly is a male. If it had been a female, I could hope to see it again laying eggs in our garden.
In no time at all this handsome butterfly was ready to go. He flew up and out of the fennel, like he had been flying all his life, and fluttered over the fence. I suppose he's off to find a lady butterfly to keep this cycle of egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly going.
I wish him well.