I’ve never written an article for a scientific journal or, for that matter, any other serious piece of literature, but from time to time, the discoveries made in my laboratory (the kitchen table) seem worthy of mention.
Take, for example, the Black Swallowtail chrysalis I had been watching for 13 days, every morning noting color changes, as it hung suspended from a vase of flowers in the center of the table. For much of the 2-week span, I had returned it to a spot in my garden, hoping the humidity and temperature outdoors would be most like its natural setting. Only at day 9, did I bring it indoors, and prepare to capture the emergence with my camera.
The internet is full of caterpillar raising guidelines, a manual of sorts, as the metamorphosis of Black Swallowtails is both educational and inspiring to witness. And my hope to catch it “live,” on a weekend day while I would be home, seemed realistic. By the end of last week, the chrysalis had begun to darken.
Timing is everything.
And being prepared to record an extraordinary event meant a little more homework and a plan.
Consulting the manual, I learned that once the color had changed from brown or, in my case, green to black, the emergence would soon follow. Behind the now translucent cover, the details of the large black butterfly within had become visible.
Before bed last evening, I recharged the battery, cleaned the lens, and chose a spot outdoors with good light. The forecast for the next morning was perfect.
I would easily be ready by 10:00 am—the time most butterflies emerge.
We wake early, and enjoy fresh coffee at the kitchen table and laptops until sunrise. The darkened room makes photo editing easy—a quiet world, less distracting. In the center of it all, the chrysalis, still black, just inches beyond my open screen. Camera, at my side, I watched. With every warm sip, I waited, becoming increasingly convinced that all accounts of a 10:00 arrival would be, indeed, accurate.
One last check of email, just a minute’s lapse…
And I missed it.
8:15 am--the most important moment in his life.
I have concluded that this demonstrates one or both of these possibilities:
1. Butterflies cannot read.
2. Butterflies cannot tell time.
All photos enlarge with a click