Monday, August 29, 2011

Nature Study...Butterflies

Here on the east coast we've just spent a weekend expecting the wrath of hurricane Irene. I say 'expecting' because the news outlets made it seem as though we would be wiped out, but we ended up being spared major damage. Actually, we didn't even lose power. We lost a lot of limbs from our old growth maples and had an indoor wading pool. But other than that, we made out well. 

When a major storm is approaching we do try to be cautious, though. If we lose power we lose our water supply, and we have lots of animals and people to care for. So, we spent last Friday preparing our little homestead: storing potential projectiles in the garage, moving the outside kitties to indoor shelter, bottling up some water, clearing gutters and rainspouts, and bringing in any nearly-ready produce from the garden.

When I was picking the tomatoes I found a chrysalis, my first ever! It was a beautiful silvery green.
It looked a lot like this. This is not a pic that I took.

I was afraid the impending storm would flatten the garden, so I carefully snipped the tomato leaf and placed it in a mason jar, punched holes in the lid, and placed it on the kitchen counter. Of course this was after running through the whole house like a 4 year-old shouting "Look what I found!"

I pretty much ignored the chrysalis on Saturday. I was way too involved in watching a 'Eureka' marathon with Husband. (Thanks Destynee for getting us hooked on that!)

On Sunday I checked the chrysalis and was surprised to see it had darkened. I made a mental note to look that up. What could that indicate? Hmmm... Unfortunately I was side-tracked by a flooding basement and after bailing for a half hour, totally forgot about the chrysalis until that evening.

I gave it a quick peek before going to bed and —so weird, it looked like it was breathing.  Seriously, it was moving in and out like a lung. Very slightly, almost imperceptibly. Ok, I was feeling a bit whacked; we hadn't had any sleep the night before due to the wind and rain, and I had been watching 'Eureka' all weekend, so maybe I was imagining things.

Apparently not. This morning I checked the jar and found that the chrysalis had hatched! Opening the jar, I gently shook the butterfly out onto our deck. I made a sugar water solution and dampened the deck boards and sat and watched as "she" opened her wings. We watched as they ever so gradually began to unfurl. It was an amazing thing to see first hand.
We think it might be a painted lady butterfly.

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