I had always wanted to get a closer look at the Jezebel butterfly.I was fascinated by the patterns on its wings.One of my friends gave me a pair of jezebel caterpillars to rear. I felt that I had struck a pot of gold.
These caterpillars are found in batches on Loranthus a parasitic plant which grows on woody trees.These caterpillars are voracious eaters . Though I had got a lot of leaves and stored them in the fridge I was running out of stock.Then I desperately started looking out for loranthus plants in my neighborhood. I finally found them in Cubbon Park.So relieved I was when I saw this plant as the caterpillars are very specific , they eat only leaves of the larval host plant. Had I not found these leaves the caterpillars would have been dead.
A cool closeup of the jezebel caterpillar
After a few days this caterpillar decides to become a pupa
The final stage of the pupa when the butterfly is about to emerge.
The wings are wet and we should not touch it as we may damage it unknowingly.
This newbie tries to find a support so that it can hang on and dry its wings.
I carefully removed the butterfly from the container which it was kept and kept a stick near it for support as advised by Guru- G.
I was delighted to hold it.It has bright coloration to indicate the fact that it is unpalatable due to toxins accumulated by the larvae from the host-plants.
Even kids can hold it this way safely. My daughter Supriya holding the butterfly.
The Jezebel often flies high up in the canopy and usually comes lower down only to feed on nectar in flowers. Due to this habit apparently, it has evolved a dull upperside and a brilliant underside so that birds below it recognise it immediately while in flight and at rest.
We witnessed magic at home, the transformation of the caterpillar to the butterfly.