Monday, September 22

a most unusual birthday present

Last Friday evening, at the birdfest evaluation meeting, Lydia gave me a belated birthday present.

At first I thought she was giving me a cutting of an ivory plant, but the real present was 2 caterpillars happily munching away at the leaves!

Pretty, yellow-black-and-white (almost pale blue) caterpillars! 

In fact one of them was getting ready to metamorphose (is that the word?) into a chrysalis, its mouthparts were glued to the vein of one leaf, and it was hanging on, its small body curled up.

Lydia took them from her very own butterfly-friendly garden in the middle of busy San Juan.  With care and luck, they will turn into beautiful orange butterflies, Philippine cousins of the popular monarch butterflies of the Americas.

It's funny how the caterpillars caught everyone's attention, especially when Sean shouted "nagpalit na sya!" and the meeting was brought to a halt as everyone admired the shiny green chrysalis that the curled up caterpillar turned into. The perfect natural history lesson.
Thanks Lydia for a most unusual birthday present.  I'm so happy you thought of me as someone who would enjoy watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly.  I'm excited to report that both of them are now in the process of change (as i said to Adri, a good lesson in apoptosis and molecular development!), a yellow chrysalis and a younger green chrysalis with a line of black and gold flecks.

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata...


  1. whoaa!!! magnifico! what's the name of the plant? id like to have one! surely them btflies would come looking and breeding on them..telyds, my bday is in june pa..hehehehe:)
    hapi bday, trinks!!

  2. ooooh! i really wish we were watching it more closely. imagine in 2 hours, the caterpillar had woven itself into a cocoon. kaya niyo yan? ;)

    waiting with bated breath...

  3. It was truly amazing! I saw the caterpillar and in a span of almost 15-30 minutes it was already a chrysalis!!!! I too await with bated breath for the susunod na kabanata! Trinket please please please try to take a picture of the butterfly emerging!!!!

  4. WOW!!! How super exciting! :) Belated too Trinket!!! :)

  5. That's awesome!!! You should time lapse photography on its development!

  6. its called ivory plant or sometimes estrella del norte (calotropis gigantea). it's easy to propogate by cuttings (see for picture)

  7. I'll try my best Ixi! I hope it doesn't come out in the middle of the night or while I'm at school though...

  8. The plant is so common. Remember guys, this is the larval host, not nectar plant for the adult (butterfly). In a butterfly garden or habitat, there are always two food sources- leaves or buds for the larva and nectar from blooms for the adult. Butterflies need plants to survive. That is why the care of the habitat is so important. Moths spin silk to make a cocoon. A butterfly magically transform from a caterpillar to a chrysallis or pupa. The old is gone, the new has come. Inside the pupa is liquid. The amazing transformation happens inside. Watch out for Trinket's next episode of The Birthday Butterfly.

  9. birthday butterfly! i like that, i'll change the folder name of the pictures: