|Photo by Ricki Mensching 10/29/2014|
These cool critters have appeared on this blog many times, but never too many times! Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars are amazingly red and fierce looking. Like all animals, they start out as a fertilized egg. After hatching, they look like the above. (Note the tiny one in the upper left quadrant.) Like many insects, these beauties undergo complete metamorphosis. And it is truly a wonder.
The caterpillars above are the larval stage for this insect. They live to eat - and this species eats Pipevine plants (Aristolochia watsonii) (which are, of course, wondrous in their own right. More on the plants at some point, you can be sure).
After eating their fill, the caterpillars pupate - i.e., they cover themselves up completely, take themselves apart, and rebuild. They come out of their covering - or chrysalis - as adults, specifically as Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies. Wouldn't it be cool to do this, even for a day?? Humans (all mammals, actually) share about 40% or so of the same code as insects. How about we add in their code for wings? I'm in!