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The larva was found walking on the ground in a garden on 24 December 2013. I brought it home and gave it a stick and it began to prepare for pupation on 26 December. It attached its caudal prolegs to the stick with silk and built it's silk safety line (attached to each side of the body between the true legs and the first prolegs and attached to the stick at a single point in front of the body) See picture 4. The larva began it's prepupal shrinking once these tasks were finished. It moved and convulsed a great deal in the next 3 days and certainly needed its safety line to stay in place. The larval skin was shed off of the formed pupa on 29 December (pictures 5 and 6) and remained in a clump at the tail end of the body. I can't imagine how the skin is shed past the safety line with the line then remaining attached to the pupal surface. The whole process is a miracle and doesn't look like it is a pleasant experience. How in just 3 days can the pupal skin emerge completely delineated with the adult body parts of legs, wings, mouthparts and antennae which are not yet formed inside of the pupa? Now it is time to wait. Picture 5 shows side and top views of the newly formed Pupa (29Dec13). Picture 6 shows side and top views of the same pupa 20 days later (17Jan14). The pupa has darkened considerably and would be more camouflaged now on its host plant.
Urban area, San Cristobal de Las Casas, 2,200 meters.
The caterpillars of this species have a small yellow-orange osmeterium, a defensive structure in the dorsal prothorax that can be everted when threatened. This organ produces foul smelling pheromones. I tried to get my larva to evert its osmeterium for a picture, but it just would not do it. Not even with my scariest Halloween mask :) However, you can see it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osmeterium. This link shows the adult butterfly: http://butterfliesofamerica.com/papilio_... This link shows the egg and larvae: http://butterfliesofamerica.com/papilio_...
Spotted on Dec 29, 2013
Submitted on Jan 5, 2014
and 3 other people favorited this spotting