Saturday, June 7, 2014

metamorphosis of vanessa atalanta---the red admiral

lots of life in the garden.  bees, wasps, spiders, beetles, earthworms---more crawly (and flying and hoppy) critters than i've ever noticed in any garden i've ever grown.  i think the abundance and variety of species is a good thing.  some of them do a little damage but we're eating very well and  have plenty to share.  

a few weeks ago i started seeing some caterpillars on the stinging nettle.

staal's had an interest in butterflies since his youth and knows quite a bit about the butterflies in california.  he's taught me the names of the butterflies that visit our gardens.  
identifying caterpillars is sometimes a bit trickier since the butterflies tend to get most of the glory,  so we weren't sure who the fat little guys munching the nettle would turn out to be.
when i stopped seeing caterpillars i started looking for chrysalises.  not an easy thing to find.  i spotted one by chance when i was weeding one day.

i collected the chrysalis and put it in a mason jar so we could see who would emerge---that was about a week-and-a-half ago or so.  i was hoping to see the butterfly as it emerged but the sneaky little guy did it while we were sleeping---found him this morning.

newly emerged Vanessa atalanta the red admiral

i took the jar out to the garden and took the lid off.   he hung out in the garden for a while---probably resting---i'd imagine it's hard work turning from caterpillar into butterfly and then fighting one's way out of a chrysalis.  i was lucky he was tired though, allowed me to get within a few inches of him with the camera and get some decent shots.

i had to wait a while before he'd open his wings for me...

 but it was worth the wait.