Today our first Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly of the 2016 season emerged from it’s chrysalis! This larvae was the first to enter pupation on April 1 and today on April 28 was the first to emerge here at the conservation breeding facilities at the Greater Vancouver Zoo.

Adult Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly

Adult Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly

Larvae are expected to remain in the pupation stage for approximately 2 weeks, however our first butterfly remained in the pupa stage for a total of 27 days. Typically, larvae do not enter the pupation stage of their life cycle until the end of April but perhaps this year due to warmer weather almost all of the individuals have already pupated. The breeding for release program currently has 93 pupas and 4 larvae ready to pupate.

A larvae in the process of entering pupation

A larvae in the process of entering pupation

While in the pupation stage of it’s life cycle the caterpillar will go through processes to break down and rearrange it’s body structures to form wings, body and legs of a butterfly. Instead of feeding, the pupa gets it’s energy from the food it had eaten during larval stage prior to pupation.

The first larvae to enter pupation

The first larvae to enter pupation

Pupas will remain in group containers until they begin to darken in colour and at this point will be separated into individual containers for the process of eclosure. Eclosure is the stage at which the pupa hatches into a butterfly. This particular pupa was noticed to be darker than the others 3 days prior to eclosure and the day prior was noticed to begin turning slightly orange on segments of it’s body.

 

Darkened pupa prior to eclosure

Darkened pupa prior to eclosure

As the pupa enters it’s final life cycle stage the chrysalis casing will split and the butterfly will emerge. Once emerged the butterflies are separated from their small hatching container into a large mesh enclosure with a flowered plant for feeding, where much like the other stages temperature and humidity are monitored.

Chrysalis after butterfly has emerged. Noticed the stained orange meconium which is the intestinal substance excreted at pupation and eclosure

Chrysalis after butterfly has emerged. Noticed the stained orange meconium which is the intestinal substance excreted at pupation and eclosure

 

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