Thursday, September 22, 2011

cabbage white ~ 09/22/11 ~ at home

chrysalis of cabbage white
Pieris rapae

I've viewed so many blog posts of monarch butterfly chrysalises in the past month that I thought I'd show something different and perhaps just as common, the European cabbage butterfly, simply aka cabbage white. Thanks to growing new plants on my balcony this year, like nasturtiums and tomatoes, I've been visited by a whole host of typical garden "pests." This cabbage white was feeding on my nasturtiums, and I collected it as the caterpillar started wandering, a behavior I've noticed several Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) do before they pupate. Does anyone know why they wander?

I think chrysalis structures are quite impressive regardless of the species of butterfly. The white fuzzy clump seen in the first pic above, towards the tail-end of the pupa, is the cast caterpillar exoskeleton. I can't explain why it's fuzzy and white considering the larva was a smooth bright green. The part that is away from the leaf is the ventral surface (your belly side if we were to compare to human anatomy) of what will become the adult butterfly. By the time I got around to taking pictures, this chrysalis was developed enough that I could clearly recognize the proboscis, eyes, and wings. If you click to enlarge the second picture, you can see the silken lasso around the midsection of the chrysalis attaching it to the leaf, kinda like how I've seen many swallowtail butterflies attach themselves while pupating. This chrysalis almost reminds me of a miniature hummingbird in profile.

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