It's a Girl!

Aug 12, 2013

At last! From an egg to a caterpillar to a chrysalis to a butterfly.

And it's a girl!

For several days we've been protecting a Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) chryalis on our passionflower vine (Passiflora) from predators.

It works like this: Adult female butterflies lay their eggs on the plant, and predators prey upon the eggs, caterpillars and chrysalides. Result: eggs gone, caterpillars gone, and chrysalides smashed open and the contents (our future butterflies) removed.

So we clipped a white cotton dishtowel around the chrysalis to prevent predation from jumping spiders, orb weavers, ants, praying mantids, European paper wasps and assorted scrub jays. 

Sunday morning it happened.

A female butterfly emerged from a chrysalis. She remained close to the chrysalis before moving outside the apiary wire (the wire is stapled to a fence to support the clingy passionflower vine).

Not two minutes later, as "our girl" was drying her wings, getting ready for her first flight, a suitor approached her.

The rest, as they say, is history.

And more Gulf Fritillary butterflies.

We hope.