Look what crash landed on my deck two weeks ago. I had no idea what it was or what it was going to be. My son who is turning 10 on saturday decided we should save it. I spent some time researching catapillars on the internet so I knew what it was and how to care for it. Thank goodness she didn't die from the fall out of our tree. I also didn't know if she was ready to go into her cacoon or if she would need to eat. I had no idea what they ate, and that each species also eats something distinctive and different from the rest. I found out what we had was a tiger swallowtail butterfly. Those crazy looking eyes on top her head aren't really eyes, they are to scare off preditors because they look snake like lol. I have never seen a 2" snake let alone a scary one but it must work.My son decided to get a piece of bark from a fallen tree and set her on that. That was all it took to answer my first question. She began to attatch herself to the bark. It also started to turn brown after two days. Then the weird stuff started to happen. Her outer body not having a leaf to wrap around it to make the cacoon started to mimic the color and texture of the bark. She started to look like a piece of bark herself lol. In my mind I am thinking "I really hope its not just shriveling up and dieing" because thats what it looked like. We decided to hope above all else and wait out the 14 days it normally takes to hatch. My son found a nice little plastic dish where he placed some rocks, grass, leaves and the piece of bark with the creature conected to it.
Tonight just after dinner 14 days later she hatched! I can't believe something so big came out of a shell so small. she is beautiful and took flight around my kitchen for a while before decideing to sit on the ceiling fan. As far as I can tell we have a girl, she has the blue markings in with the yellow and black at the bottom of her wings. Careful not to touch her with our hands we coaxed her onto a paper plate and into a plastic container so we could set her free.
I watched all 4 of my kids take her outside with my oldest setting her free into the back yard. This is the kind of stuff moms live for. It also reminded me with a little patience we can take the time to save another living creature that might not have lived without our help. My son said it was the best birthday gift he could have gotten. I told him she probably was thinking the same thing.