The Life Cycle of the Spicebush Swallowtail

Today I am writing about the life cycle of the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly. This butterfly is rather rare in certain parts of the country. It thrives in the Eastern and MidWest United States. Now, the life cycle of this butterfly is the same as every other butterfly in the world. It goes through the same exact process as other butterflies, it just lives a different “life-style.” What I mean is that, it has different enemies and because of that, it has different ways to protect itself from these enemies.

The first stage, for all butterflies, is the pupae stage. The pupae stage is also known as the “egg- stage.” Based off of that name, I think that you pretty much know when this stage starts. This stage starts when the little caterpillar is released from the womb. Now, butterflies do not have live birth like humans do, butterflies give birth by laying eggs on a leaf, in the same place, or near where they, themselves, were born. This is good for the young caterpillar because, it allows the parents of the caterpillar to know if it can survive in the area. Once the caterpillar is born, it begins feasting on the leaves around it. Eventually, it will become big enough to fend off most of it’s natural enemies. Naturally, the caterpillar won’t be able to fight off all of it’s natural enemies because, otherwise it’s enemies would never survive and the entire food chain would be ruined. Also, if that food chain was ruined, so would the rest of the world. This is because, when you take an entire food chain out of the picture, the world starts to feel that take a toll on it’s resources. The people affected by this loss of food will try to make up for it but end up making it worse, you get the picture. I don’t know about you guys, but I wouldn’t want that to happen. There are two colors for the Spicebush Swallowtail (I know what it sounds like, but no you can’t just pick the color you want it to be, however cool that may be.) The two colors are brown and green. These two colors are important to know, this is because if, or when, you see one, you should know what type of butterfly it is. The brown caterpillar, is not brown like milk chocolate, it is brown like dead leaves once they fall from the trees. Now, I think that you should know this because otherwise you wouldn’t know what it was and then you would think, “You know I feel like I should know what this is…” and then years later, you will remember that you read this and feel dumb. Which you are not. I don’t what this to happen to you so that’s why I am explaining the color. Now, the green caterpillar looks green like a fresh leave on the trees.

The next stage in the developing butterfly’s life is it’s transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. What happens is that the caterpillar creates a “cocoon” called a chrysalis. Once in this chrysalis, the caterpillar begins it’s awesome change! I think that this is one of the coolest parts of the process. I say this because, when the caterpillar starts changing, the chrysalis soon begins to become transparent. I think that being able to see a “before and after” type cycle is pretty darn cool. If you would have this butterfly somehow, wouldn’t you think that this is cool. Now, I don’t have one for a pet but I think that this animal is really cool. About the pet idea, I think that if I had the opportunity to have this animal as a pet, I would take it. One of the really cool things about this portion of the cycle, is that the color of the chrysalis is based upon the color of the caterpillar itself. So, in case you didn’t already assume this, if the caterpillar were green, the chrysalis would be green and the same would go

for a brown caterpillar. I think that this one attribute just makes this creature one of the coolest animals ever! The chrysalis stage usually lasts a little longer than two to three weeks. Since it takes that long, if you are watching the process, just check in on it every two days or so. I think that this part of the life cycle can get pretty boring so that’s why I recommend the broken up approach. I don’t know about you but, the best part of this stage is probably when the chrysalis becomes transparent. Oh yeah, back to color, the reason that the caterpillar has two possible colors is A) Environment and B) Genetics. In the case of genetics, it is usually because of the natural enemies that it has to face and it just has to be prepared. Although genetics is the primary example, in that situation, it ultimately comes back to environment. This is because different animals thrive in different areas so it’s just a survival attribute.

The next stage is the “butterfly stage” or, adulthood. In this stage, the former caterpillar emerges from it’s chrysalis as a  full grown butterfly. The butterfly has new colors and doesn’t resemble the caterpillar it once was very much. The butterfly has black and blue wings with yellow dots on them. This is typically the case only once it is born. Since I made that comment, I have to back it up with evidence. What I mean is that the butterfly can change colors based on it’s environment. Now don’t go around saying that this animal is like a flying cameleon, because it’s not. This butterfly isn’t changing it’s colors by sheer will power. This butterfly only changes it’s colors based upon it’s current environment. I know that I say that a lot, but it is true and that’s the only way to describe it. The other reason the colors change is because it needs to defend itself. For example, if you live in the Eastern or Midwest part of the U.S., you have probably seen butterflies in your backyard fly around and disappear. This is because the butterfly is hiding from you. I most likely sees you as an enemy so it has to get away from you, unless you stand completely still. For the people who don’t live in that area, if you can picture that, then you have a pretty good idea of what this butterfly is capable of. Based on that, I think that you can guess that this “ability” is very useful in certain situations. I say this because if we, as humans, could change our skin color to help protect us our population would probably be much greater than it is right now. Although I say this, it might not be true because, this might cause a rather long series of racial segregation similar to that of the ending of the Civil War.

In conclusion, this butterfly is a rare specimen capable of camouflage, if you will. This is a pretty cool animal that shows how awesome animals can be, even if they are harmless to you. Notice, I said “to you” I said this because it can defend itself from it’s enemies. Although that is true, we are much bigger and stronger than most of it’s enemies. Please like and subscribe. Also coming soon: “Homeschooled Hero” YouTube! I will let you know when it is up and running, and give you the link. See ya next time!

Until next time, your friendly neighborhood Homeschooler…

 

Bibliography

All of my information came from:

entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/bfly/spicebush-swallowtail.htm

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