Thursday, July 4, 2013

Waiting for Butterflies: From Egg, to Cat, to Pupa

I've been waiting quite a while for the eclosion of two lime butterflies from their pupas in our small garden. Eclosion is the emerging of the adult butterfly from its pupa.

I've been lucky enough to witness the adult lime butterfly lay its eggs, usually on the underside of the leaves of my mom's calamansi plant. It curls its lower portion to deposit a single, yellow egg on a leaf.

Do you see the tiny yellow egg near the base of the leaf?
This is a freshly laid egg!

I've seen the eggs hatch into tiny caterpillars which slowly gnaw at the leaves' edges. I've observed them grow into much larger brown caterpillars...

and then change into plump, bright green caterpillars...

The newest stage I've seen was the positioning of a green caterpillar to turn into a bright green pupa!

The caterpillar then chose a branch, curled up, and
positioned itself to get ready for pupation. First time I've seen this!

The pupa was bright green and supported by very fine "silk thread"
which, upon further reading,  is called a "silk girdle."

Upon closer observation, I saw another pupa which was brown. I checked out the very detailed and amazing page on Lime Butterflies on Butterflies of Singapore which Adri and Trinket shared with me months ago. I learned that this species's pupas can have two color forms: green and brown. And we have both at the same time in the same plant! 

This brown pupa was formed before the green one.
You can clearly see the "silk girdle" here!
The pupas are supposed to turn black and then become transparent, showing the developing butterfly inside and after a day, the eclosion happens. So now, I wait.

And wait. And wait. 

Both pupas have not turned transparent and I am afraid that they might have "drowned" during the past days' rain. The brown pupa also has a small hole on its side which makes me think it was "invaded" by another insect, and Adri thinks this is possible.

This picture shows the small hole on the brown pupa.

I guess the survival rate isn't quite good for these butterflies. The first batch of caterpillars I observed "disappeared" before pupation (we think the birds ate them.) At least, this batch made it to the pupa stage. But I will still observe and wait for the butterflies to emerge, maybe they just need more time. (Otherwise, I am so tempted to inspect the inside of the failed pupas.)

While I wait, an adult lime butterfly decided to lay a couple more eggs for me watch and observe =)


  1. omigosh maia! kikiligin sa yo si ate lyds. :-)

    great pictures of the different stages, i hope the other chrysalis makes it to eclosion! if not, it sounds that you have more chances to observe coming soon!

    (the bulbuls have gotten to all of our cats on the citrus plants so far!)

    1. Hehe! I hope the green one makes it nga... it would be really fantastic to witness the eclosion! Pati the newly laid eggs, sana mag-succeed!

  2. hi maia,
    Nice photos! I almost missed that tiny yellow egg.Do you know the name of the caterpillar/lime butterfly? I captured a photo of a similar caterpillar
    Calamansi Photos but I'm not sure if they are the same.

    Do you have a photo of the butterfly?

    1. Hi Roldan! I don't have a photo of the butterfly, the only times I saw it was when it was laying eggs and it kept flying around! =)

      I think we have the same species of Lime Butterfly (Papilio demoleus) but not sure of the subspecies. My friends have shared this link with me documenting the life stages of the Lime Butterfly.


  3. How many days did it took before it hatched?