You may have discovered, as I have, that, often, the best gifts are surprises…and free. Nature is generous in its gift-giving, and we were recently gifted the experience of witnessing a caterpillar affix itself to our house’s siding, form a chrysalis, and – amazingly – emerge from that chrysalis! What luck to be present to see that newly-hatched butterfly working on unfurling its wings.
I’d been checking on the chrysalis daily, hoping that there’d be some sign that emergence was impending. One day, as I cut some fresh lemon balm to make tea, I heard a strange tap-tap-tap sound. I followed the sound and found the chrysalis spinning wildly – the tapping was created by the case hitting the siding to which it was anchored. That seemed like a sign! I ran in to get Mr. fMf to see this weird and wonderful activity, only to find it had ceased when I returned (with my phone), of course.
Later in the day, though, on one of the many trips outside to accommodate the dogs’ toileting needs, Mr. fMf came back and was insistent that I needed to come see something outside. After wrangling the dogs inside, we headed over to the front porch, where our rocking chairs sat (the chrysalis was against the wall, behind the chairs). There, on the bottom rocker of one of the chairs, was a butterfly. It had freed itself from the chrysalis!
The butterfly was still unfurling its wings, and I gazed at it in wonder: how could something that size have possibly been contained by – and escaped from – that chrysalis? Even more surprising was the trail of “goop” that had accompanied the butterfly when it hatched from the chrysalis…hatching goop very much like what I see when chicks hatch from eggs. It was even a dark reddish color, like blood, implying a true “birth” experience.
The butterfly had clearly hatched and then moved down from its birthplace a couple of feet, and was in a spot where a curious dog or a hungry bird could easily have spied it, so we carefully moved it to a nearby leafy bush. The butterfly was very active and continued to walk around while we were trying to move it (and snap a few photos – done as expeditiously as possible). It was a beautiful bright orange with the most lovely contrasting violet accents on its wings. Mother Nature really outdid herself with this gorgeous pollinator!
Once on the bush, the butterfly nearly disappeared – exactly as it should. With closed wings, it looked just like an unassuming (and unappetizing) brown leaf. It stayed in the bush overnight, and was lower down in the same bush the next morning. By midday, it had warmed up and flown away, leaving us with just memories – the kind of fleeting encounter that still leaves a deep impression. Next year, we’ll be planting a pollinator garden just for our winged friends.
Learn more about the Question Mark butterfly here.