What’s that in the Mandarin tree – so silent and stoic?
After my online search … it’s the chrysalis of a Citrus Swallowtail Butterfly.
Hanging from a silken girdle, a secret transformation is underway at this nymphal stage. Most of the larval cells have had to die before the adult structures (of the butterfly) can take shape. What survive from their breakdown into ‘caterpillar soup‘ are imaginal cells – one for each adult body part – all ready to carry on and complete the metamorphosis over time.
Will a male or female butterfly emerge? The female of the species has more colour.
The main character in Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Butterfly” is a male butterfly intent on finding a wife amongst the blossoming flowers. He dismisses one flower after another, ending up old and alone. It’s not a story I’d tell to kids because of the way females are portrayed. The main character is so conceited and superior. However, he does get his comeuppance – caught late in the summer by a human, he’s pinned to a board – ironically ending up as an object in a display case. (Surely people don’t do this in this day and age?)
But back to another photo of the chrysalis. (I have no idea if this is a mite in the foreground.) It can take from one – six months for the butterfly to finally emerge, depending on the weather.
And to think one of the wonders of the natural world is happening in my backyard right now!
Sources: The Butterfly in Haugaard, Eric Christian. The Penguin Complete Fairy Tales and Stories of Hans Andersen. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, Penguin, 1974:782.
Identification thanks to – The Butterfly House, Coffs Harbour. Papilio Aegeus. Accessed 18 Jan 2018.
Jabr, Ferris, How Does a Caterpillar turn into a Butterfly? in Scientific American, August 10, 2012. Accessed 18 Jan 2018.
All text and photos by Meg.
Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law.