Friday, August 12, 2011


While we were in San Diego, I noticed that the passion flower vine covering Aunt Karen's fence was home to a considerable crop of caterpillars. We even found a couple of chrysalises (chrysali?) among the leaves. Being the biological sort, I decided to do a little online research to try and figure out what these critters were.

It turns out that there is one butterfly, the Gulf Fritillary butterfly, that lays its eggs only on passion flower vines. And its caterpillars looked suspiciously similar to those we found. I also learned that their range extends to the San Francisco Bay Area and you know what that means.

I asked politely if I could relieve Karen of her fattest caterpillar and a chrysalis. We left with a baggie of passion flower leaves and a jar containing one fat caterpillar and a healthy-looking chrysalis.I never did take a picture of the caterpillar. By the time we'd completed our drive home, our caterpillar was already hanging in a little "J", ready to turn into a chrysalis itself.

Happily, the first butterfly emerged from its chrysalis during Aunt Karen's visit. We spotted it while it was still coming out and watched as its wings dried, enjoyed it taking its first fluttery flight around the "butterfly house" and finally let it go. It sped away so fast that I didn't even get a picture with its wings open.Fortunately, it's pretty on the underside too.

The second butterly emerged a little over a week later and this time I was sure to get a picture before it flew away in the exact same direction as the first...doubtlessly looking for some passion flowers to land on...

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