Thursday, September 22, 2011


As many of you know, we are currently in the process of building a permanent residence in northwest Indiana. Bruce is overseeing the project so we have been spending quite a bit of time on our property this summer. One of my favorite things to do is wander about our acreage in search of beautiful nature/wildlife. I most always tote my camera along, just in case I find something of interest. Below are photographs of a few caterpillars I have been observing and the changes they have been going through.

I found this very young Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar snacking on the leaves of a sassafras tree. The markings and coloration on the caterpillar resembles bird droppings, which helps protect it from hungry predators. I found three of these caterpillars on the same sassafras tree. This one was the largest, the other two were quite small, no bigger than a grain of rice

Here is the same caterpillar two days later. The eyespots have developed and the coloring on the caterpillar has taken on a greenish tinge. Take note of the mat of silk that the caterpillar has spun atop the leaf. I observed all the caterpillars move from their silk resting spots to feed on other leaves. When finished eating, they returned to their silk pads

I checked back a week later to find a plump, bright green caterpillar with light blue spots

Meanwhile, the smallest caterpillar of the three is developing quite nicely

A day later, the largest caterpillar has relocated to a new leaf and found a companion. They nestled side by side for 24 hours, then the smaller of the two moved on

Appearances can be deceiving. The eyespots are false and what looks like a tongue, is the head of the caterpillar.

To my delight, I found three more Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillars on another nearby sassafras tree ~ This one seems to have fared well through the heavy rain storm

Back to the largest caterpillar ~  I woke up in the morning to find that its color had changed from bright green to olive-brown with numerous speckles.  The next day it was gone ... my guess is that it moved on to pupate elsewhere

Eventually, the ever-changing caterpillars above will turn into a beauty such as this Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

While walking through an area with an abundance of wildflowers, I noticed this Common Buckeye Caterpillar on the side of a Queen Anne's Lace flower

Twenty minutes later I found it attached to the unopened flower head and arching upward

I returned an hour and a half later to find it curled up in a "J"position preparing to pupate

 I checked back the next day, and to my surprise, found that it had turned into a pupa overnight. I was amazed at how fast this happened

I have not noticed any changes over the last several days, though the Queen Anne's Lace stem is slowly wilting

I have my fingers crossed that I will be fortunate to watch it emerge from its chrysalis, dry its wings and flutter across fields of yellow and purple wildflowers ~ Common Buckeye Butterfly


Birding is Fun! said...

How cool is that!

TexWisGirl said...

beautiful to see all the phases. i like when a caterpillar resembles the finished product so you can kind of see the potential. when they change colors and markings so drastically, it's just amazing to think of the transformation they undergo!

Kerri said...

Julie - this post makes my heart sing! How wonderful to see them thru their stages. A most excellent post my friend!

Larry Ostby said...

Life cycles of the butterfly are amazing as are your photos. The transformation is incredible. A great series of photos Julie.

PoetessWug said...

Your patience is amazing! And it paid off wonderfully!...Nice captures!

Herman versteeg said...

wat een aparte rupsen en een mooie flinters.
groetjes Herman,

Art said...

This was really great shots, well done!

Bob Bushell said...

Brilliant photos you have displayed, and the speeches.

cristina munteanu said...

Fascinating metamorphosis! Well done!

BERMAXO said...

Espectaculares imagenes ..que maravilla de fotografias

Daniel said...

Your should teach biology. Very interesting and informative. The photo's are superb!

All the best on the 'bigger' project!


Debbie said...

amazing photographs...crisp and clear with so much detail.

i have seen this before in a butterfly wonderful it must be to view in in nature!!

the buckeye is beautiful isn't it?? i don't see anything "common" about it!!

Guy said...

Hi Julie

This post is great I love being able to follow the progression of the caterpillars as they advance through their life cycle. You also captured this with stunningly beautiful photos.

What a treat.


forgetmenot said...

Julie, What a wonderful (and informative) series of amazing photos. The whole process is totally mind-boggling. When one thinks of the "miracles of nature" that take place everyday, one has to be filled with a sense of awe and wonder. Spectacular photos!!!! Hope all is going well with the building of your home--what a challenging and frustrating project at times, but well worth the time and effort when it is complete. Have a lovely weekend my friend. Mickie :)

BrandNewStudio said...

It’s always a pleasure
to see such a Wonderful Pictures
good creations

cindyzlogic said...

Outstanding post, Julie! And, outstanding photography!! I really enjoyed reading and seeing the different stages of growth! The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is such a beautiful butterfly! Your photos of the ETS and Buckeye are fabulous!!

Landbohaven said...

Gode billeder.
Tak for rundvisningen

JRandSue said...

Once again superb show,love the transformation process.
Nothing common,about the Buckeye.

John S. Mead said...

Julie, What a SUPERB series this is! not only is the photography top notch, the information provides a great mini science lesson! KUDOS my friend!

Linda Rockwell said...

Love the photo series and the post. Wonderful as always! :)

Angad Achappa said...

Lovely macros here!! :) The tiger caterpillar images are awesome!!

John's Island said...

Hi Julie, First of all, thank you so much for the kind words you left on my blog. You are absolutely the best at writing an encouraging and thoughtful comment. After not posting for much of the summer it was so nice to get your welcome back. Thank you! Now, regarding this post -- it's just fascinating and the photos are wonderful. Your close-up photography is an inspiration to me. And I love the way you take the time to follow up on these little creatures and document the changes. Best wishes to you for a fine Fall and hope the construction on your new home moves along smoothly. I'll be looking forward to your next post, as always. John

Marco Alpha said...

Hello Julie,
These are very special shots!! Very nice that you have received this process in view. Amazing!!
A very beautiful butterfly at the last shot.

Greetings, Marco

Andrew said...

Wow! what a wonderful series of images... many thanks for sharing this post... lovely to see

dAwN said...

Absolutely Super!!

Tim said...

Great caterpillar and butterfly pictures! So much beauty!

John said...


I have been watching wildlife for over 30 years, thought I had most things. You have left me speechless. Remarkable series of shots. Just amazing. Stunning. Beat these. I doubt it. John

Jeanne said...

Super mooi wat een aparte opnames . Grt Jeanne

BirdGalAlcatraz said...

Fantastic, Julie! I love the entire series and the fascinating changes day by day. I especially love the detail and super information you provide - loving & learning at the same time. Just wow!

Ben said...

Hallo Julie,
Allereerst complimenten voor deze geweldige serie macro opnames.De beelden laten een perfecte scherpte/diepte zien en bovendien prachtig belicht. Ik zit volop te genieten van je bijzondere kijk op deze lastige tak van de fotografie.


Patricia/Trisketta said...

Julie: Thank you for an uplifting and intriguing illustrated story. You are an amazing photographer AND a remarkable writer. Another riveting post :)

Rebecca said...

Wow! Awesome photos and info-Thanks!

Bruce said...

As always, you make me proud :)

For the sake of others reading the comments, Julie is having trouble responding due to a technical problem with the Blogger software. Aparently, there are others suffering the same inability to post responses.

Red Rose Alley said...

I visited your blog today - I saw you on 'Forget Me Not.' Your photos are so beautiful. Me and my daughters are also interested in Photography. There is so much beauty to capture in God's world, and I would really enjoy to visit a blog that encourages that. We just started a new blog, and we would love it if you could visit us and follow. Your photos are incredible, and there is so much peace in nature. Your blog is so sweet, and I am leaving here with a smile. I hope to hear from you, and have a lovely weekend.
~Sheri at Red Rose Alley

Maneck said...

Parabéns! Lindo trabalho

Debbie Miller @HooootOwl said...

Wow Julie, Fabulous post, fantastic photos! I was in Chicago yesterday, stopped by North Pond for a visit and thought of you. I can see you are really enjoying NW Indiana. You sure have a way of capturing the beauty in world around you no matter where you are.

Nature in the Burbs said...

Great series of photos

Manuel Luis said...

Uma escolha perfeita através de um olhar sensível como é o teu.
Fotos deslumbrantes num Mundo onde minguem estima o que é de todos.
Eles fazem parte de nos, fotografa-los é conserva-los.
Beijo e abraço

Hilke Breder said...

I have never thought of caterpillars looking cute, but these with their fake eyes certainly do! Great pix!!

Ellie said...

Wow Julie amazing shots. I've not seen anything like that before. Those butterflies are beautiful aren't they. Thanks for sharing.

reba said...

I have never such pretty nature. Love these pictures. You are welcome to drop by my place..."from my little corner of the world". Blessings.

André Tavares said...

Hello Julie

I am Brazilian photographer André.
Beautiful photos and very tasteful.
The creativity, harmony, simplicity and romance.
Works such as yours that encourages us to make beautiful pictures.
I am already a follower.
When you can visit my blog, I would be happy with your comments.

Thank you for your attention.
Kisses friend

André Tavares

André Tavares said...

Hello Julie G.

Very many thanks for the attention and affection.
Elegant their comments and words. Helps me a lot
in the future to make beautiful pictures, as are their
in good taste and technique.
Thank you!
Kisses Brazilian friend,

André Tavares.

Mariette's Back to Basics said...

Dearest Julie G.,

We marveled at your incredible photos and your text is so educative as well. Had to show my husband your blog as well and it is now residing on my sidebar so I won't miss any...
Love to you,


KaHolly said...

Absolutely fascinating.