The earlier pictures were taken on my wee compact Canon ixus 970IS, which involved sneaking up on the butterflies. This can be very frustrating when they fly off, but very rewarding when they don't!

Since 2012 I have been using a Panasonic Lumix FZ150, which allows me to zoom in to the butterflies from a couple of metres away.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Butterfly World Chrysalises

Of great interest to me on our recent visit to Butterfly and Insect World was an area where they had rows of chrysalises on canes waiting to eclose or emerge. Unfortunately, there were no names on the canes, but there were a couple of freshly eclosed butterflies and there were a couple that I managed to identify afterwards from the internet. However, there are still a few I can't identify. If anyone can, I would be grateful to hear from them!

There was such an amazing array of shapes and colours.

These are the chrysalises of the Tree Nymph, Idea leuconoe.

I had thought that these were the chrysalises of the Monarch, Danaus plexippus, but I am grateful to Kirsten from the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, Florida, for correcting me. (If you haven't seen their blog, I would highly recommend that you take a look - Kirsten informs me that these are in fact the chrysalises of Queens, Danaus gilippus. These were about 20mm long. I love the row of golden dots around the top, just like a golden zipper! I had been concerned that out of 20, or so, chrysalises only two were green, with the others being a buff colour, but Kirsten assures me that this is normal for Queen chrysalises.

This Owl butterfly, Caligo memnon, had kindly just emerged, allowing me to identify the chrysalis!

Similarly this Cattleheart, Parides lysander, was still pumping up it wings.

Judging by the chrysalises above I thought that this was also a Cattleheart. Kirsten has suggested that this looks more like a Polydamas Swallowtail, but it is very difficult to be more specific than that as the chrysalises of that group of Swallowtails are so similar. I am sure that she is right, as this chrysalis was on a different stick from the Cattlehearts and looking again, I can see that it isn't the same.

And now for some chrysalises I can't identify. I have no idea what these are!

Or these! Kirsten has suggested the Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes.

This is a fantastic chrysalis, looking like a variegated leaf. I would love to know what butterfly it will turn into.

Here is a Blue Morpho, Morpho menelaus, eclosing, being closely watched by a Glasswing, Greta oto.

Here is a Goldrim, Battus polydamus, illustrating a bit of a concern that I have. The bamboo canes that the chrysalises are attached to are very smooth and difficult for any butterflies to grip onto. My son and I were looking at a Blue Morpho that had dropped to the ground while its wings were still soft. Luckily it found a rock to climb up to allow its wings to harden. While we watched it climb the rock this Goldrim dropped to the ground and its wings flopped over as it walked along the ground. I bent this fern leaf over and it immediately climbed up it, allowing its wings to straighten and dry out. I think that it would be good if they were to roughen up the canes with some sand paper before they stick the chrysalises on to give the butterflies something to grip onto.

I was also slightly concerned that the chrysalises were within easy reach and it would be easy for kids to poke them or any newly eclosed butterflies. I suppose this can't be a problem, or they would have changed how they display the chrysalises. Actually, the last time we visited Butterfly World the chrysalises were all behind glass, so it is a big improvement to be able to get a close look at them.

I find the whole process of caterpillars turning into chrysalises, then turning into butterflies really fascinating. For me, the range of chrysalises at Butterfly World was just as interesting as the butterflies themselves.


  1. Hi Nick,

    I think the chrysalises you show as Monarchs are actually Queens (Danaus gilippus). They regularly have chrysalis color morphs in colors like pink and beige. See this post for pics:

    Photo number 6 may be a Polydamas Swallowtail, but the whole complex of Tribe Troidini (aristolocia eating swallowtails) have similar chrysalids. Check out this link:

    Photo number 8 may be chrysalids of Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes). They have that bark like appearance. However, there are likely related species that look similar.


    1. Thanks very much Kirsten. If anyone is able to identify these chrysalises it is you! Now I will have to go back to Butterfly World to see the Queens flying. They are a butterfly I have always wanted to see. I notice that I commented on your post last October saying that I liked the Queen chrysalis picture!
      The Polydamas chrysalis looks good, too. There was a Battus polydamas flying, so you could be spot on!
      I have Googled images of the Giant Swallowtail and that certainly looks like a good match.
      Thank you again for your identifications.

  2. Hi Nick, I do concur with you that the chrysalises are just as interesting as the butterflies themselves. The photo of the green chrysalises all suspended in a row reminds me of a branch of a native plant; Belimbing asam (Averrhoa bilimbi) which we used in curries.

  3. I see what you mean, but I wouldn't fancy chrysalis curry!

  4. This is awesome!!! I would do this to help the Monarch if I could!

  5. Hello Nick :-) I spotted a comment from you on Sonjia's (Breathtaking) blog and sensed you might be a fellow Brit (although much further north than me) so came for a look and was very pleased to find you are also a fellow butterfly fan. I have never been to a butterfly world although there is one twenty or so miles from me at Stratford-Upon-Avon so perhaps a thought for the future. Fascinating to see so many chrysalises together, none of which I would be able to identify!

    I really enjoyed looking through your archives and at your lovely photos and will definitely visit again. Let's hope we get much better butterfly weather this year than last!

    1. Hi, Thank you for your comments. Yes, a great butterfly fan! We only have 20 species here in East Lothian, so I have enjoyed looking at your blog and seeing the purple emperors, chalk hill blues and others that we don't get here! Surely the weather won't be as bad as it was last year

  6. Hi Nick!
    Many thanks for your kind visit!
    I agree with you, a blog's first purpose is to serve as record keeping of what we've seen, with photos and words.
    The second purpose is to exchange with others views on the subjects, the pictures themselves or anything else in relation with Nature.
    You really have great photos and interesting posts, well done!

  7. Oh wow what a wonderful place that would be to visit - I will put it on my bucket list! Awesome to see some emerging from the chrysalis as well - you took some lovely photos . I love the owl butterfly!