emergence-emergency, help?

bramble j_vitae at bc.cybernex.net.com
Mon May 26 18:11:18 EDT 1997

hi.. i have in my kitchen 4 recently emerged painted lady butterflies from
the classroom where i work.  (we bought a butterfly garden kit, and the
timing was off a bit.  the butterflies still hadn't emerged last friday and
so they were brought home with me for the wkend, so if they should emerge i
could feed them.)

the first 4 had no problem at all.  the 5th had not properly attatched
itself when it began the switch from "caterpillar" to  "chrysalide", and so
had been laying on its side.  it began to emerge yesterday morning, but as
of this afternoon had not succeeded in doing more than splitting its outer
covering halfway, and getting out one antenna and its 2 front legs.  about
2 hours ago, with some very gentle assistance, the rest of the covering was
removed.  we took very special care to not injure the butterfly.  (as far
as we can tell, anyway.)

one antenna and the two back legs are still underneath the wings, which the
butterfly has had made no attempt to expand yet.  it's been at least two
hours since this guy was freed from his cocoon (technically not a cocoon,
nothing was spun, but i'm really not informed with the proper technical
terms here, folks), and all of the other butterflies had completely
stretched out their wings in that amount of time.  this butterfly has
actually accepted sugar water from an eyedropper, (i held the eyedropper
upside down to do my best to simulate a flower, and the butterfly actually
would stick its "tongue" into it and curl it back up and repeat the

i guess the main questions are:  did we help too much already? is this
butterfly doomed?  is there more we can do to help it?  could it be that it
took the butterfly so long to emerge that its wings had hardened already?
does that happen?

any input, suggestions, thoughts greatly appreciated.  i'm bringing these
butterflies back to school tomorrow, and while the students will likely be
pleased as punch with just the four, i myself would feel much better if we
were able to release five healthy butterflies this week.

i'll be following the newsgroup, but should anyone prefer to reply via
email, you need to take the ".com" off of the end of my email address.
unsolicited commercial email is the bane of my existence.

thanks for your patience,
bright blessings,


      "we are hope despite the times" - r.e.m.
         "plant impossible gardens" --sark
      email: j_vitae at bc dot cybernex dot net

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