Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Real Butterfly kisses- and the nursery

When I arrived at my sister Nanda's in Weatherford Texas, I expected a quiet week of sewing.
Little did I expect so much sex!

I stood outside admiring her flowers and plants when I noticed her Purple Passion Flower bush looked large and healthy

Upon closer inspection I noticed caterpillars all over it.
They were eating the leaves & flowers buds.

I ran inside and told her she needed to spray for bugs... she laughed and said "No, those are the babies, they come here every year and it is mating time" she went on to explain that the Gulf Fritillary butterfly feeds only on the Purple Passion Flower- that is the nursery.
Purple Passion vine
They drink the nectar and the caterpillar eats the whole plant even the flower buds.

They are very pretty.

They come here to mate
these really were HOT peppers...
There are 2 pairs in these pepper plants... those are some HOT peppers!

Butterfly sex

and then they lay their eggs on the Purple Passion leaves.
there is a little yellow/orange egg on the leaf in this pic

and here is an egg, and a newly hatched caterpillar amongst the droppings from the caterpillars
that little caterpillar will eat and grow till it's about 2-3 inches long.

After it has eaten enough, it will make it's way down the plant and across the grass to Nanda's cement porch. Which is about 10 feet of yard to crawl thru.
Once on the porch, it has many choices. She has wooden patio furniture,

and you will see the caterpillars climbing up and then finding the right spot,

it attaches itself and the prepupa stage has begun.

this pic was taken just 4 hours later.
the chrysalis is now formed.

Each morning we would rush outside to try and catch a butterfly as it was emerging.
This is the closest I got- his wings are still curled and he has just begun the process.

it was funny to watch- the butterflies would come flutter by- to check on the new ones who were stiffening their wings and getting ready to fly off.
It was one way we knew which ones had hatched.

There were MANY to keep up with, all in different stages of development.

Then you would see this excess liquid drip from the butterfly-
I found out it is called red meconium fluid.

And once the wings were dry- usually about 1-2 hours, he would flutter off
and head back to the Purple Passion bush to start it all over again.

and then one day I noticed one butterfly laying in the grass.
His wings were tattered, and he was very weak. The gentle breeze blew him across the grass and onto the sidewalk and into the other yard. I saw some of the other butterflies fly over as if to say "Farewell". I found him dead about 30 minutes later.

I watched well over 25 caterpillars make their way over and begin the process to becoming a butterfly. I was fortunate to watch 6 butterflies emerge and fly off.

Who knew I would learn so much, and have such joy from sex....
that I was not involved in!

Thanks to Nanda for sharing her nursery with me.... Now I am gonna look at getting one of these plants- coz there are other butterflies that frequent this plant.

Mother Nature is SO COOL!

Another reason I LOVE Texas!!


Montie said...

Cool, I wouldn't mind having one of those plants eithr if it would keep them off the good stuff.

smiledarlin said...

these caterpillars ONLY eat on this plant.... You are close enough to the Gulf that you could get these butterflies. And this flowers smells beautiful.