I was privileged this week to see something that usually goes on around us unnoticed. Last week I spotted a butterfly chrysalis on one of the fennel plants in the herb garden just outside our kitchen door. My wife and I walk right by the two giant plants (one bronze and one green) every time we go out the door and into the yard and gardens. And we often see swallowtail caterpillars on them, munching away. But this time I caught the chrysalis, attached to the stalk of the green fennel plant. It was camouflaged well, blending in with the yellow and green colors of the blooming fennel plant.


Black Swallowtail chrysalis attached to fennel plant (click on any image to enlarge)

And yesterday I was fortunate to spot the newly emerged Black Swallowtail butterfly, drying its wings before it took its first flight. The butterfly was easy to spot, its black wings standing out clearly against the green fennel.


Black Swallowtail butterfly after emerging from chrysalis

It was sitting motionless on the fennel plant, just above the remains of its chrysalis shell.


closeup of swallowtail above chrysalis

I came back about an hour later, but it was gone. I missed its first flight, but I was happy I got to see the miracle of transformation like I did. Fly well little butterfly, and happy sailing around Happy Acres!

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12 Responses to Emergence

  1. Robin says:

    How cool to get these photos! There are so many wonders of nature going on around us every day and very seldom do we notice them.

  2. Daphne says:

    I saw a few of the caterpillars on my dill this year, but they never got big. Something was eating them. Some years I seem to grow a great crop of swallowtails, and some years they all just disappear. Beautiful photos.

  3. Jody says:

    What a rare and beautiful thing to experience. Thanks for taking time to share it with us.

  4. linda baker says:

    Privilege indeed! Also one of the benefits of living life in the slow lane, thanks for sharing.

  5. Mike R says:

    I rarely see a black swallowtail on my property. They are very strong flyers. Last year a very large weed with purple flowers (??) grew on the pasture/woods edge and it attracted tiger swallowtails by the hundreds. Once in a while I see a zebra swallowtail which is a real treat. The change from caterpillar to butterfly is truly one of the amazing feats of nature!

  6. mac says:

    That’s beautiful, thanks for sharing.

  7. How fun! Our fennel has only played host to curious bees this season. I hope we see a few stray young butterflies soon.

  8. johanna says:

    Great visual catch.

  9. Sherry says:

    Fascinating photos! I didn’t know that’s what Black Swallowtail chrysalis looks like. Well, I’m still learning about insects. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Shawn Ann says:

    Beautiful butterfly! I need to plant more things to attract butterflies next year!! My daughter would love it!

  11. Now that must have been an incredible moment to behold. I’m so glad you had the chance to see this! Thanks for sharing the photos with us. The butterfly is so beautiful. I will never cease to be amazed that it’s all folded up and tucked into that little green package…just such an incredible process. The natural world is so utterly amazing!

  12. Last year we noticed Anise Swallowtail caterpillars on our fennel. But I think they were all eaten by birds. This year, we moved the caterpillars into a reptile cage, and have successfully reared quite a few butterflies.


    It’s really magical.

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