Message on a bottle
Since more than 20 years I try to catch the moment when the butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. Its a time consuming-proces and most of the attemps fail.
This year I waited hours and hours in front of chrysalises of the Orange-tip. I had more than 30 chrysalises but I could only 'catch' two females. I found an egg of the Admiral and raised the caterpillar/chrysalis but the butterfly was born before I noticed any colour changes at all. My perfect hanging chrysalis of the Brimstone between Buckthorn emerged yesterday in the minute I was busy writing an email while I was waiting.....and last but not least.....the caterpillar of the Small White decided to use a bottle to hang on.....not the place I had in mind! But at least I catched the moment.....
The battle is won!
Three weeks ago I was walking with Wanda (my Sheperd) when I noticed an empty chrysalis of the Comma Butterfly on nettle, further inspection resulted in three more empty chrysalises! Apparently I had found 'the' favourite place of this species. The complete nettle plant had six or seven stems and suddenly I noticed some caterpillar feet between the flowers. The battle (see my blog from 20/08/2016) started again. Fortunately this caterpillar was not infected and exactly one week ago, just in time before I started a trip to my hometown, a new butterfly was born:
After 17 years and countless hours of waiting the battle is won! The complete sequence can be seen here (Butterflies -> Metamorphosis -> Comma Butterfly)
Last Thursday I saw the first Orange-tips of 2016. Three male butterflies were flying around the Cuckoo flower area which I visited after work. My plans to return after dinner vanished when I saw dark clouds coming and instead of a beautiful sunset it was raining cats and dogs. Since then we have wind force 3 or 4 so I did not return to the Cuckoo flower area. Today I noticed that the colour of the chrysalis (last year I found (only) one caterpillar of the Orange-tip in my garden) had changed and while I was looking at the chrysalis it was moving a little bit. As quickly as possible I took my tripod and camera and there she came.....
The complete emerging sequence (number 6) is published under Metamorphosis -> Orange-tip.
The first life of a Holly Blue
The Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) is one of my faithful garden butterflies.....probably because I have a lot of Holly, Purple Loosestrife and Ivy growing. It's one of the first blue species in springtime and one of the last early autumn. While the females are searching for nectar, the males are searching for females in a very busy, almost spastic, flight high off the ground.
Some weeks ago I noticed how a female was inspecting a huge Ivy hedge and a few days later I found (with the help of a magnifier) an egg and followed its secret life:
The chrysalis is hanging upside down under the birch leaf so for the last three photos I had to turn around the leaf. The first two weeks, I used my special macro lens, the MP-E 65 mm; afterward I could use my 'normal' macro lens.
I hope that the chrysalis will survive the winter outside and that I can 'catch' the second life of the Holly Blue next spring!
A little introduction for the non-Dutch people: AH is the abbreviation of Albert Heijn which is one of the biggest supermarket chain in the Netherlands. In February and March this year, for every 15 Euro, I received some vegetable seeds to create my own vegetable garden.
After a lot of caretaking, I now have a lot of tomatoes and all stages of all Dutch white species. Their favourite of all vegetable/cabbage plants is broccoli. They ‘adore’ the leaves and some caterpillars have no problems with devouring all yellow flowers of the broccoli.
A nest of about sixty caterpillars of the Large White I found in their third skin; a few days later I decided to take them inside and feed them on my kitchen table.
After almost a week I found out that none of these caterpillars was infected by the White Butterfly Parasite (a wasp with the name Cotesia glomerata). That is a remarkable fact as normally a big part of the caterpillars is parasitised.
A second notable fact was that the caterpillars did not accept little branches or other dead natural material which I offered them; a big part of the caterpillars pupated in a group on the plastic of the insect box and the other part on the green broccoli leaves. Fortunately one caterpillar transformed into a pupa on a day I did not have to work (see sequence 1).
In the meantime I found an other caterpillar nest of the Large White on broccoli and some new eggs of the Green-veined White and/or Small White but they have to survive outside as I have no more space available on my kitchen table!
11 Months ago I found on my Annual Honnesty (Lunaria annua) a tiny little caterpillar of the Orange-tip. Annual Honnesty is their favorite foodplant next to Garlic Mustard; both plants are growing everywhere in my garden so I'm finding almost every year caterpillars.
10 Months ago this caterpillar was at least twice the size and transformed into a chrysalis and hibernated outside in my garden until a few days ago:
A female Orange-tip was born and it is interesting to see how the butterfly unfold the soft wings. The drying proces of the wings takes more than one hour but once she was ready, she flew away.....I hope to find the next generation in a few weeks on the Annual Honesty!
On metamorphosis -> Orange-tip you can find the complete sequence.
Unfortunately the weather was too bad to photograph the process in their natural habitat outside, so inside, in front of a window with the garden in the background, I photographed some metamorphosises. One of the processes I catched from the front and on this sequence you can see how their little feet are moving up (actually it's the complete caterpillar skin) and disappear....instead a chrysalis appears. What an impressive spectacle!
In my blog from 2nd September I showed some caterpillar pictures of the Swallowtail which I collected from a carrot field for a friend to let him enjoy the emerging process. As caterpillars are growing very quickly I needed fresh carrot leaf and everytime I found new caterpillars; at the end I counted between 25 and 30 caterpillars. By the end of September all caterpillars were transformed into chrysalises and a part I gave to my friend and the other part stayed outside on a shadow place. Normally they will hibernate as chrysalis until May/June.....normally.....when we will have no summer temperatures for more than a week in October!
When I returned from my trip to Germany, I immediately noticed two emerged butterflies and some coloured chrysalises.
As the weather stayed warm almost all chrysalises got coloured and day after day I collected an emerged butterfly. For the first time I cursed warm weather as all my efforts to help the new Swallowtail generation of 2014 vanished. The only thing what has left are memories and a new sequence of the last emerged butterfly:
Please visit my metamorphosis gallery for more sequences of emerging butterflies.
Money for nothing
Would you entering a bakery, walking to the display cases full with bread rolls and asking the shop assistant for a free bread roll? Probably not.
For the umpteenth time, this week I received an email through my contact form with the request to deliver images for nothing. As I lost hope some time ago, I mentioned in three languages that I will not give away my digital files for free. So I do not understand why people (mostly design offices) still contacting me for free photo material......it’s rude behaviour as I have to pay for my camera’s and lenses too! Next to the financial investment, some images, sequences costs me a lot of time.
When I returned from my appointment last friday, the sun was shining so I tried to photograph an emerging Painted Lady. For hours I was sitting outside and waited but nothing happened. I think the air temperature was too low as I was frozen. This is almost the ‘normal’ course for photographing transformation processes: waiting and freezing for nothing. Yesterday I gave it an other try but this time inside behind the window. Due to the warmth both chrysalises emerged almost at the same time and the second butterfly moved so hard to emerge that he fell out of the chrysalis......
I rendered first aid and after the butterfly hang again he pumped blood into his wings to inflate them and two hours later he was flying into freedom.
Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame……where there is a flame, there is passion and my passion is to photograph butterfly metamorphosises. In my Butterfly Gallery under the chapter metamorphosises a few photo sequences can be found. Recently I explained a friend that a lot of attempts to photograph a transforming caterpillar or butterfly failed.
In 2008 a friend discovered a black caterpillar in the grass and called my name......I found 18 large black caterpillars of the Peacock Butterfly (Aglais io) and offered them two large insect boxes with branches and plants. Unfortunately, the majority did choose the plastic cover of the boxes to hang on. From the few caterpillars which hang on a natural place, only a few were not infected with parasitoids (the some who were infected did not change into a chrysalis).
So only a few caterpillars were hanging in the right position but unfortunately the transformation process from caterpillar into chrysalis took place at night. The last caterpillar started moving at day but also this little ‘bastard’ transformed when it was (too) dark......despite of all the lamps which I collected, the artificial light gives an unnatural result and that is the reason why this sequence landed in the 'recycle bin' for years.
But, like almost everything in life.......you gotta get up and try try try (P!nk)
Jibt dir dit Leben mal een Buff, denn weene keene Träne. Lach Dir'n Ast und setz Dir druff und baumle mit de Beene.