Over the past couple of months I have been capturing the life cycle of a butterfly with the help of my iPhone. I have been trying to grow some limes as I love limes but with the extreme heat we have had over the last 2 summers and the resident possums who keep eating the fruit, it is a never-ending battle. I have planted these lime trees in pots. Imagine my horror when I came out one morning and found a big, fat caterpillar on one of the leaves. It was bad enough that I have a family of possums that eat the limes but now here was another enemy in the shape of a large green caterpillar. Anyway, I decided to check out what type of caterpillar it was before I squashed the green offender so that I didn't kill off a member of an endangered species.
Well, to my surprise I found out, with the help of Google, that this caterpillar was an Orchid Swallowtail butterfly. You can read more about them here http://www.climatewatch.org.au/species/insects/orchard-swallowtail-butterfly
These butterflies are native to Australia and lay their eggs on citrus leaves. We have native citrus trees in Australia called finger limes, Citrus australasica. Now, with the introduction of introduced citrus trees these butterflies have increased in number. They are very beautiful and one of Australia's largest butterflies. I also discovered they don't harm the tree, merely munching through a few leaves, so I left the caterpillar to observe its life cycle, taking pictures over a number of weeks.
I found it fascinating to observe it growing and then becoming a chrysalis to finally emerge into a beautiful butterfly. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see it emerge from the chrysalis but shortly afterwards saw the butterfly. Here are the results. If you look carefully you can see the tiny thread it is hanging by.