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!


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!