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Continental Drifter

Continental Drifter is the Alan Skyrme Photography blog first established in 2004 under the banner Continental Drift. In it we publish snippets about nutrition, information about fruit and food, articles about travel experiences, travel reviews and other related notes.

Gold Nugget

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On the last day of March I found a colourful caterpillar on the wall of my garden and took it into my house to take photos. I have a vivarium and placed it on a leaf where it sat and began placing fine threads of silk near its head. I recognised this behaviour from a similar event at a different house at the end of 2004.

The next day I found that the caterpillar had removed its skin and had attached its new chrysalis form to the leaf. At this point the chrysalis was a pinkish colour and lay horizontal on the leaf.

Within a day the chrysalis had turned gold in colour - bright and metallic. I then cut the leaf before gluing it to a stick that I had suspended within the vivarium. This enabled the chrysalis to hang in a natural state until it was ready for the final stage of its metamorphosis.

On the 6th of April I returned from work at lunchtime to find that I had unfortunately missed the "birth" of the butterfly! It had emerged, had spread and dried its wings and was ready to fly. I took a couple of photographs before releasing the insect into a patch of wild vegetation next to the house. I believe the butterfly was a Mexican Fritillary. We seem to have a few species of similar-looking fritillaries in the area - I have counted a minimum of 12 different types of butterfly in just 4 square metres of the vegetation next to my house, including Swallow-tailed species.

In 2004 (and again in 2005) several caterpillars of Opsiphanes invirea, Owl butterfly, had marched up to my front door. I placed them in the vivarium and was able to do some time-lapse photography to capture the caterpillars suspending themselves to the roof of the glass tank, emerging in chrysalis form, and later as butterflies. Fascinating.