Friday, March 23, 2012

Magnolia Mystery


When I was photographing spring flowers in the yard I thought it was rather funny how there were four old leaves  still hanging on the Yellow Butterflies Magnolia bush.


I reached over to pluck one off, but it wouldn't pluck.  It was tightly attached AND there was something rolled up inside! Something pretty big, like half a cigar!   Some kind of  chrysalis or cocoon - all four of the leaves were like that.

I did a little reasearch online (This is why I love the Internet) and learned that mangnolia is a host plant for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Wikipedia Photo).  It is true, last year was a remarkable year around here for both tiger and black swallowtail butterflies.
This is what the Tiger swallowtail caterpillars look like shortly before pupating  (Wikipedia Photo).  I don't know how I could have missed such characters in the yard last summer, but I will definitely be looking for them this year.

In the meanwhile, I am tempted to  clip off a twig with a chrysalis and  bring it inside so I don't miss the butterfly emerging, but I don't want to mess with its timing if bringing it inside the warm house would cause it to emerge too soon.  So, I will just be checking the rolled up leaves every day.

I think this variety of magnolia is named "Yellow Butterflies" because it looks like a cloud of  butterflies when it is blooming, but how appropriate that it hosts Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars, too!


4 comments:

katiegirl said...

Very cool! And what funny looking caterpillars!

Snooks said...

This is very neat! Hope you can catch one in action. These butterflies are so pretty. Lucky you.

@ 3Beeze Homestead

tami said...

Well how about that...It's neat that you would even think to try to pull them off and all this.

Jocelyn said...

That is supremely cool!