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Birth of a Variegated Fritillary Butterfly

Here's a short catalog of the Variegated Fritillary coming to life starting with the caterpillar on the Passion vine. This photo is really from last Fall, but I didn't take a picture of our "current" caterpillar this Spring.

Variegated Fritillary caterpillar

One day our caterpillar was gone. You hope that he/she left to form a chrysalis instead of having an unfortunate demise.

This June we saw our first chrysalis. The photo above was taken June 9th. On June 16th, we saw a small butterfly on the step below the chrysalis. It wasn't moving and had it's wings folded. I looked closer and saw that the antennae were laying flat in front of the butterfly. A few minutes later one antennae was raised. Fifteen minutes later the other was raised. Now, we are getting excited. Is this a newly emerged butterfly? The chrysalis looked intact, but it was looking less colorful.

We checked the progress of the new butterfly again. Oh no, there is dreadful looking red fluid below him. A quick google search reveals that this is perfectly natural. The fluid is meconium. Meconium is the leftover part of the caterpillar that was not needed to make the butterfly. This is stored in the intestine of the butterfly and expelled after the butterfly emerges. Thanks for the information Insect Lore!

Newly emerged Variegate Fritillary

We placed one of Ian's shoes by the backdoor to give the butterfly a buffer from Maddie the dog. We were afraid that she would run over him. The butterfly eventually crawled up the side of the shoe.

Aaah, the wings have opened! Four days later, the entire chrysalis has disappeared. We believe this butterfly was from the chrysalis by the back door.

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