In my previous blog post, I outline how the museum acquires butterfly pupae for our Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden. But what happens when the weekly shipment of 200 or 300 new pupae arrives?
Once the shipment arrives, my team and I open it up and begin setting up the pupae to be placed in our emergence case for guests to view. Pupae are arranged by species and labeled so we can easily tell them apart. (Different species often look unique so my staff can tell them apart even without a label.)
Each pupa is checked for signs of damage or disease before being carefully glued to strips of paper and placed on rods that will hang in the case. All the information from every shipment is added to our electronic records so that we can track things like what species we get and how successful they are in the garden.
Once in the emergence case, the waiting game begins. Some species can har dly wait to emerge and may be out as adult butterflies the same day they arrive. Other species like to take their time and may be out later in the week. A few species really like to try my patience and may take several months to emerge! The process of emergence usually only takes a few seconds. The fully formed butterfly pops out of the chrysalis, but their wings will still be tiny and damp. They must pump them up using body fluid and let them dry before they are ready to fly, a process that may take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. About twice a day, we gather all the emerged butterflies who are ready to leave the case and release them into the garden. (If you’ve ever been lucky enough to see it, it’s quite a sight!)
Excited to see our pupae now that you’ve heard so much about them? The weekend is an excellent time to see us full up on pupae as we usually get shipments on Thursday or Friday. Be sure you spend some time at the emergence case and take a closer look at our chrysalids. After all, they’ve taken quite a journey to join us!