On one of the nature trails I found a plain tiger caterpillar on a Calotropis plant .I wanted to observe the life cycle of a butterfly so brought it home . I put this caterpillar in a ventilated case with some leaves of calotropis.
This plant is the larval host plant for this butterfly.The Plain Tiger is protected from attacks due to the unpalatable alkaloids ingested during the larval stages. The butterfly therefore flies slowly and leisurely, generally close to the ground and in a straight line. This gives a would-be predator ample time to recognise and avoid attacking it. Inexperienced predators will try attacking it, but will learn soon enough to avoid this butterfly as the alkaloids in its body cause vomiting.
The caterpillar ate the calotropis leaves vigorously and went on to hang on one of the stems to become a pupa,Leaving its external skin hanging outside the pupa as seen in the picture.
The pupa had a golden tipped crown kind of a structure.It had gold tips near its eyes and at the edges too.It was amazing to watch it grow.
Daily I kept checking this pupa when one fine day I found a transparent covering around the pupa. The wings were visible .I was not sure whether a healthy butterfly would come out of the pupa as the size of the pupa was very small.How compactly natures treasures are packed is a treat to watch.
Guruji had told me that after the transparent phase the butterfly emerges soon. Started to observe it closely to find a butterfly emerge out of the pupa.On the left side is the pupal case from which it came out.The emerging butterfly was a delight to watch .
The butterfly had started to tend itself . It did some stretches and unfurled its wings. It did some butterfly yoga .
A closer look at the wings , on the left edge the folded wings can be seen .A closer look at the newly formed wings .The butterfly took some time to dry itself and straighten its wings which was so compactly packed in the pupal case.It basked in the sun for some time.
After some time the butterfly preparing for its first flight.
It sat on the sill for sometime then it decided to fly.I was glad that it flew as a mother I was concerned whether it could fly. Maybe I should tend it for more time I had thought but finally let Nature take its own course . I had found immense pleasure seeing it grow. Hope someday it will visit my garden from where it took its first flight.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danaus_chrysippus for more details