A Few Butterfly Answers

I ended yesterday’s post about Black Swallowtail Butterflies with a few questions:

I wonder if there is enough summer left for them? Will they emerge and mate this year? Or will they wait until spring, pausing the cycle as they sleep through winter’s dreary interlude?

Chrysalis August 26

This morning, the yard answered with uncharacteristic directness. There is definitely enough summer left — plenty of time for another generation of swallowtails.

Butterfly August 27

Butterfly August 27

Butterfly August 27

Of all the remaining chrysalises, why should the one I photographed yesterday be the one to open today?

Butterfly August 27

Maybe because I had some time available today, for research? Why else would she allow me to photograph the strange fork at the end of her proboscis? I’ve noticed something similar before, but not on all of the butterflies. What’s going on here?

Butterfly August 27

This afternoon I learned that many species of butterflies emerge with their proboscises incompletely fused. After emerging, they mechanically connect the two halves, forming a tube. This has to be done fairly quickly, or the butterfly may end up with a permanently divided (and therefore non-functional) proboscis. In the above photo (taken only minutes after emergence), the process simply wasn’t complete.

The following enlargement, cropped from one of yesterday’s emergence photos, shows the groove that results when the two halves of the proboscis are properly connected. (The tip of this proboscis had a tiny fork remaining, evidence that the butterfly still had a bit of work to do.)

Butterfly 2 August 26

So much complexity, packed into so small a creature. Wonders and miracles in every detail.

Butterfly August 27

2 thoughts on “A Few Butterfly Answers

  1. ProsperityAndCalamities August 28, 2015 / 7:50 PM

    Amazing pictures!

Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.