A love for butterflies leads many people to invest in the beautiful Pipevine plant. This plant with its large heart-shaped leaves serves as a host to California Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies in all their life stages. Most Caterpillars rely on specific host plants. As the caterpillars munch away at the leaves they get the nutrients they need to become gorgeous butterflies.
The eggs, the caterpillar, the chrysalis and the butterflies themselves are all found on a patch of the Pipevine in the Golden Gate Park Arboretum, in the California Natives section. It was my hope to find all these stages of the swallowtail to photograph for you, but the butterflies moved too quickly, the eggs were too small, and the chrysalises, which resemble dried leaves, are too well camouflaged. But I will keep trying.
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) is an ambitious effort to collect, store, and share species information and occurrence data. You can participate by taking and submitting photographs of butterflies, moths, and caterpillars, and your sightings will be posted at BAMONA . It’s a very cool site.
I hope my caterpillar images will entice you to go to the Pipevine patch and look for yourself. As well, I hope that my images draw you into the experience I had with my subject and move you to your own adventure with something in the natural world close to you.
As I was fine-tuning my composition, sprawled out on the dirt path with elbows firmly grounded, I felt the earth tremble a bit. It was caused, not by an earth quake, but a group of 2nd graders running toward the Pipevine patch ready to count the caterpillars as one of their summer day camp projects.
One of the students blurted out, “These bugs are ugly.” Not wanting to butt into the group leaders’ plans, I simply starting singing, “How could anyone ever tell you, you are anything less than beautiful? How could anyone ever tell you, you are less than whole…” a song by Libby Roderick. I learned it from the herchurch choir directed by Katie Ketchum.
The butterfly is primarily associated with the symbolism of change and transformation. This animal totem could be guiding you to be sensitive to your personal need for development and growth as well as seeing unfolding beauty in your life. The spirit of butterfly reminds us that we have the ability to go through important changes with grace and lightness.
We are each butterflies. The universe, womb of the Goddess, is our chrysalis.