A self made sanctuary, a place for change and growth, a chrysalis is created in anticipation of both ~K. D’Angelo
As a caterpillar prepares for it’s final act, to “pupate” or change into a chrysalis, it will often wander away from its host plant. It may search for a safe haven, a solitary spot, away from other caterpillars and any predators they may attract.
A very small percentage of species pupates under soil or leaf litter in a crude cocoon. Most butterfly caterpillars, however, become rock climbers. They spin a silken line and “girdle” or harness themselves to a stick or other chosen spot.
Once securely in place, they perform their magic once again. This is the finale, the highlight of the caterpillars show. The audience will be amazed as they watch, the total transformation of caterpillar to chrysalis. No longer does the “Voracious Eating Machine” exist, now there is only…
A lifeless jade earring with an elegant band of gold running through it. (the Monarch Butterfly in disguise)
A scary looking little creature, complete with pointed ears, a sinister nose and glaring eyes. (the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly in disguise)
A small green seed pod. (the Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly in disguise)
A Golden mirror that mimics the sun, all that glitters is not gold. (the Mechanitis Butterfly in disguise)
A piece of green foliage. (the Anise Swallowtail Butterfly in disguise)
A iridescent dried-leaf creature. (the California Sister Butterfly in disguise)
Whichever form a chrysalis takes, it is designed to camouflage and confuse predators. This is an intentional case of false identity, where the forming butterfly within will hopefully be mistaken by its predators for someone or something else.
On average a butterfly will pupate in its chrysalis for 4-14 days. In extreme cases, however, depending on the weather conditions, some species have been known to hide out for 6-7 years. This is a very long time to keep a secret! Hopefully, your true identity will not be revealed to any passerby-ers, ones who might see you for what you really are.
If a predator where to look closely at you, they might see the outlines of your wings, antennae or abdomen. They might even see that you are an immobile butterfly in the making. You’re a neatly packaged food source, nutrient rich and easily accessible. They might attack! If a chrysalis’s secret identity is revealed or found out and a predator attacks, the situation is usually a grim one.
Defenses are few for a strung up statue.
Depending on your species you may respond to an invader by jerking your body, creating clicking, hissing or squeaking sounds. If you are really lucky you may be able to call on your old friend the ant to assist you, but be ready to reward said savior with a sugary snack!
Past usage of illusion, camouflage and manipulations abound, have worked for a few fortunate chrysalises. They have survived longer than most of their kind and within their seemingly lifeless structures, miracles are occurring. Soon these patient pupas will be released to experience a whole new world…