chrysalis adaptive coloration

Sunsol Daniels MYTZ14A at
Tue Aug 18 09:14:44 EDT 1998

 We were shocked at the
>light green overall coloration of this chrysalis, and the yellow 
>that replaced the black on the other two.  We thought that, since we
>missed the initial formation of the first two, that perhaps this was a
>phase and the coloration would slowly shift.  It has been three days 
>with no apparent change.  This coloration most closely matches the
>underside color of the Water Oak leaves.
>   Is this apparent chameleon ability typical in butterflies, in the
>genera, or just specific?  Do we know what external influences govern 
>"decision" to morph into one color or the other, is it voluntary and is
>the color potential limited to shades of these two basic pigments?  An
>interesting note to us, but may be inconsequential, was the fact that 
>third caterpillar was substantially darker than the first two.
>   Any information that you could allow would be greatly appreciated.
>    Andria & James Wood


I've been asking myself the same question.  I've noticed that anise 
swallowtail chrysalids come in two colors, green and brown, that seem to 
be influenced by substrate color.  I thought it would make a great 
science fair project to investigate this.  But we haven't actually run a 

I've raised other butterflies such as red admirals, cabbage whites, gulf 
fritillaries, painted ladies, etc.  None of them seem to have this 
variation in color.  I'd like to hear from others on this topic.


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