Caterpillar to Chrysalis

About a day or so before the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail pupates (the process by which a caterpillar changes into a chrysalis), its coloring changes from green to brown. 
caterpillar turning brown
Sunday, August 22

The blue spots begin to fade and the abdomen looks like a woven tapestry.
caterpillar preparing for chrysalis Monday, August 23

On Sunday, I had moved Junior to a larger container. By larger, I mean I had chosen a taller jar, but unfortunately I did not think about the opening.  It was not wide enough to fit the camera down inside.  He had stopped eating by this point, so there was no coaxing him out.  And though I had chosen a nice twig on which he could attach his chrysalis, he decided to go ahead and make it right on the inside wall of the jar. 
brown butterfly chrysalis of eastern tiger swallowtail butterflyTuesday, August 24
So by Tuesday afternoon, when I realized he had pupated, I was reduced to shooting through the other side of the container.  If you look closely right under the eyespot, you can see a bit of silk thread.  Swallowtails attach their chrysalises to a stick or stem at the tail end, using this silken girdle to suspend them in an upright position on the plant.  (Different from say, monarchs, which hang upside down to make their chrysalises.)

I was hoping to get better photos of caterpillar #2, because I had placed that one in the large butterfly habitat where I can unzip the top to take photographs.  Unfortunately, it also rejected two choice twigs and chose instead to make its chrysalis at the top of the habitat attaching itself to the underside of the zipper.  There is a smaller zippered opening near the floor of the habitat, but the angle is too awkward for the camera.

Caterpillar #3 is just days away from pupating as well.  I’m hoping he will like the twigs.
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You can find more in this caterpillar photo documentary series here:


Nikki-ann said…
Wow, I've never seen that process before. Thanks for sharing this with us. :)
Noner said…
Your caterpillar is looking at me funny.

Random Animals
Wow, what a progression with your little guy. He's looking cuter all the time. The name escapes me now but in that first photo he looks like that cartoon sea creature :D
What an amazing process! The photo looks great to me. Now, I realize what I took a photo of this morning and didn't get into a post yet must be some kind of chrysalis.
Very nice, Adrienne.... I am enjoying seeing your pictures and reading all about this 'future' caterpillar. Bet your kids love seeing this also... SO NEAT.

Have a beautiful Sunday.
Martha Z said…
I'm glad you enjoyed my Alaskan wildlife, I am enjoying your Caterpillar adventure. I lookforward to seeing them turn into beautiful butterflys.
mrsnesbitt said…
Wow! Totally awesome.
You have mamanged to capture a most incredible transformation! I have never seen this before! A fascinating post!
Michael said…
Never see these things so close up. Great pics.
Randy Emmitt said…
These are not the easiest caterpillars to find, KUDOs! I have found them along my shed and later the changed but never got to see them become butterflies. Meg is going to school today to release the Black Swallowtails they are raising in her classroom. So far 3 out of 16 have became butterflies.
We just love watching this. Fascinating. I am so glad you are capturing it all!
JKoenig said…
This is so neat to watch! How gave it twigs but it has a mind of its own.
Kerri said…
This entire process is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! WOWZA!
Ali said…
I had a Monarch do that to me last year lol. It decided to hang from the top of its enclosure and not from twig...but that's probably to be expected since they do hang upside down. ;-) Love LOVE following your caterpillar through its metamorphosis, hope the last one cooperates better for your camera!
Carletta said…
That first shot is awesome!
I admire your patience and can hardly wait to see what he looks like. :)
Naomi said…
My first time to see a caterpillar that close.

It looks like a funny creature. :)
deejbrown said…
It is their decision, right? Location, location, location!
Thanks for sharing this interesting process. FAB.
Judy said…
I wonder how they decide what to attach their chrysalis to...
Cassiopeia said…
So very cool!

My kids found a caterpillar and we put it in a jar. It wouldn't eat anything we gave it. I finally called my aunt who they were visiting when they got the caterpillar to see what kind of tree it was on when they found it. It was a Choke Cherry tree, but my uncle said when he cut some branches for his goats the Choke Cherry leaves made them sick. I put a little vase of water in the jar, then put a branch in the water. The caterpillar was so hungry you could literally hear him crunching away when the house was quiet at night!

He rolled up in one of the leaves and made a cocoon. Unfortunately when he came out we were away and he died inside the jar because they need to fly right away to dry off their wings. It turned out to be a Brown Moth.
Manz said…
weird and interesting post... images had me stuck on the page for a while there!
Misty Dawn said…
These posts are just beyond awesome! I'm loving this whole series - you should make a book!
Anita Johnson said…
I have stopped by your blog before from Iheartfaces and am glad I stopped by today. These photos are amazing and I would love to watch the process myself. I have had many monarchs this summer and have taken many...too many photos of them. If you have a moment you might enjoy seeing them. My sidebar has a label, "Monarch Butterflies". This caterpillar looks like a cartoon character, I'll have to keep my eyes open for one next summer!

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