Adventures in Raising Butterflies: Emergence

Male Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly On Zinnia

We ended up with twenty chrysalises total out of this last batch of eggs laid on the dill in my herb garden, and over the past week we’ve been able to witness the first flights of eight of the freshly emerged Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies. Since they didn’t all form their chrysalises at the same time their emergence has been staggered, and every morning I eagerly to check to see if there are any new butterflies in the enclosure.

Easter Black Swallowtail Female On Zinnia

I’m not sure if there’s any significance behind this, but there have definitely been more male butterflies than females in both of our groups this summer. The females tend to be a bit larger, and the inside of their wings have larger blue areas near the bottom, while the males have less blue and more yellow areas near the edges. The outside/underside of their wings are the same for both males and females, with beautiful red-orange, yellow, and blue markings. The two males in the pictures below look almost the same at first glance, but if you look closely you can see some slight differences in the markings on their wings.

Black Swallowtail Male On Zinnia    Black Swallowtail Male 2 On Zinnia

Even thought my sister raised butterflies through many summers when we were growing up I was never this closely involved in the entire process, so this has been a very fun learning experience for me. When I bring a newly emerged butterfly outside, I like to stay with each one until it flies away, and that gives me the opportunity to really study them and get some photographs.

Black Swallowtail Male On Sunflower StemThe butterflies that have most recently emerged spend more time hanging around before they fly away, pumping up their wings as they unfold and strengthen. Some of them will even crawl all over me, giving me the enjoyment of spending some close time with a creature that is normally more elusive. I’ve spent a lot of time taking care of these creatures, and it’s so gratifying to watch each one fly off!

Black Swallowtail Male From Above On Zinnia


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