Monday, October 22, 2007

Buckeye Butterfly (Junonia coenia) Lifecycle

Location: Rainy day in Pigeon Forge, TN

At the beginning of October, I picked up a small caterpillar that was crawling past my RV. I took a couple pictures of it, but ran out of time. So I popped it into a container, intending to take more photos the next day. Richard identified the caterpillar as a the larva stage of a Buckeye Butterfly.

Click for Larger Image of Buckeye Caterpillar

When I put the caterpillar in the container, it curled up into a spiral ball which I didn't think anything of at the time. However, the next morning it became apparent why, and also that the caterpillar photo session was over -- overnight it had transformed into a pupa, or chrysalis. I decided to keep it, and see what would happen next.

Fast forward to yesterday. I checked the container and found I had a butterfly emerging! It was slowly, bit by bit, uncurling and unfurling.

Click for Larger Image of Buckeye Pupa

Soon I had a butterfly livng in my RV! Before long, its wings had dried, and and now it looked like this:

Click for Larger Image of Buckeye Butterfly
It is so "tame" it willingly sits on my fingers:

Click for Larger Image of Buckeye on My Fingers

Being out of Butterfly Chow, I'm trying to give it some sugar water to nectar on, but I don't know if that will work.

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