Someday I’ll Be A Beautiful Butterfly!!!

Well this post does not have anything to do with dogs. It does however demonstrate the caliber and what could be deemed affliction regarding my love towards all creatures. Don’t judge me!

In my backyard I have about four different types of citrus trees. I have key limes, lemon trees, mangoes of course. The lemon and lime trees were rescues from someone who was throwing them away at their front curb at one point as i was driving by, i skidded to a halt, grabbed them, threw them in the back of my truck and took them home. In my opinion everything can be saved!

So I’ve been nurturing these trees getting them back to full health even though they have some scale on them and all kinds of weird issues. And yesterday I happened to be in the backyard and I looked over at this one leaf on the lemon tree, and it looked like there was a very large amount of bird poop on this one particularly. Upon closer inspection the poop had what looked to be eyes! So I of course not only fully checked it out now convinced this was not poop, but took a bunch of pictures with my phone and sent them to my guy.

So I call my him because he has an affliction for taking care of plants in the backyard worse than I do. He of course did not know what it was either. I said that I assumed it was some sort of Caterpillar or something to that effect and it did actually crossed my mind that it could be a beautiful butterfly. But i always trust that he knows this stuff better than I do, and his response to the pictures was “get that thing off that leaf and go throw it somewhere where it won’t harm my plants”!

So after that kind of response I go out there with scissors and I cut the leaf off and I’m holding him in my hand and looking at him and checking him out some more and taking lots of pictures. I don’t know why I assume the “caterpillar” is a guy but I do. And to me, well I thought he was adorable. I didn’t know where to put him and as I’m carrying him around he looks like he’s lifting his little head and looking at me. Really? So I just took him to the opposite side of the house out the front door and onto the front step for a while until I figured it out. I definitely wanted to find him a nice new home with lots of foliage.

Meanwhile my guy at work showed the picture to his friend who happened to grow up on a farm here in Florida, who said “oh that is a swallowtail butterfly larva, they grow up to be beautiful butterflies. Did you find him on citrus leaves? That’s where they like to live”

Now would be a good time if I haven’t mentioned prior that I used to work for Walt Disney Feature Animation in the mid-90s. I actually worked on the Pixar film A Bugs Life. Anyone out there seen that movie? Remember the adorable rotund Caterpillar with the German accent named Heimlich? (another crazy affliction I have is I relate everything to Disney movies or cartoons or animation in general) so of course my guy calls me and tells me that this particular type of caterpillar will grow into a beautiful swallowtail butterfly at some point.

No sooner did I hang up with him then I ran outside to the front and grabbed the little Caterpillar still on the leaf that I cut off of the plant and took him right back to the tree I removed him from! IDIOT! And yes, the little guy does lift his head and look at me. He also looks like he blinks his eyes. Okay maybe I’m hallucinating.

Now I am standing there with the leaf in my hand with the Caterpillar who probably needs a living leaf to survive, and I don’t know where to put him on this very sparse tree. As I mentioned prior, this tree isn’t doing so well. There’s not a lot of leaves to choose from. So I finally find a little spot that I can kind of balance him on.

I set him down on top of this other leaf as securely as possible and I look at him and make sure that he’s good to go, and I feel pretty good about it. I look up and I notice it’s getting kind of dark it looks like it’s going rain. But I think he’s pretty good, so I leave him there and I go inside and I get ready for work. I take a shower, I get dressed for work, and I get my stuff together with my keys in hand and I go outside just to check on him and make sure everything is okay before I leave. As I walk out the back door I noticed that it definitely did rain while I was in the shower. I look at the tree, where I put him, and he is not there! The entire leaf and him are gone!

I look down at my feet and right where I’m standing there he is on the patio right next to my foot. Holy shit. I scooped him back up and frantically start looking for a new place to put him. Again, have I mentioned this tree isn’t doing so well? So I see a little place between two leaves that if I pinch them together make what looks like a little boat. So I put the leave that he’s on, jam it in between this little boat area and now I feel like he’s not going anywhere. I’m going to be late for work, so I leave him there and rush off.

Of course all day at work I am obsessed wondering if the little guy’s okay. When I get home I drop my keys throw my purse down and immediately go out the back door. The little boat leaf is still there, but he’s gone! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

Now I am freaking out, going through all the motions of it’s all my fault, I’m the one who killed him, if I hadn’t cut him off the tree in the first place then he would be okay. I started digging around in the bottom of the pot because there’s some weeds in there and looking through to see if he fell and he’s just laying there dying or whatever. And I can’t find him. Sadly I kind of give up thinking that it’s just the way of the world and that’s the way nature works survival of the fittest and all of that good stuff. And as I start to walk away I look up towards the top of the little tree, and there he is! He had crawled all the way up the trunk of the tree to the very top and now he is actually on the trunk and not on a leaf. Yayyyyyyy!!!!!!!

After this happy discovery I decided that I’m just going to leave well enough alone, and let him do his thing. So this morning I woke up and he was in a different spot still on the trunk but doing just fine. I’m really psyched to think that I am actually giving a habitat to swallowtail butterflies which are absolutely beautiful.

I’m going monitor him as long as I can, and I will take as many pictures as I possibly can, and share them with you so you can see the lifecycle of this cool little piece of poop. And hopefully I will catch him in his transformation and show you what a beautiful butterfly he will become!

Heimlich would be so proud of me!




~ by Michelle Sammartino-Zeto on September 26, 2012.

4 Responses to “Someday I’ll Be A Beautiful Butterfly!!!”

  1. Michelle, I really enjoyed your experience, as I have been following your journey, and have been hurting for you. You are such a caring person, and have been through heartache with Cody. It was funny as I had been at the Hilliard elementary school library and they had two special mesh set ups, (who knew? there was such a thing) with a sign “shush! metamorphasis in progress” They had branches and cocoons all set up as a teaching experience for the kids. Any way, it’s none of my business, but I hope you can find another pup to fill your heart, We all ,I’m sure ,honor and miss Cody, but I hope you will find love and peace soon. chris

    • Thanks Chris! I am very much on the lookout for my next pup… but clearly in the meantime I amuse myself with the wild kingdom in my backyard and my bike rides. Thank you so much for reading about Cody… and I hope you have a sweet baby at home you like to cuddle with too!

  2. My favorite caterpillar, the orange dog that turns into Giant Swallowtail. I amuse myself by lightly touching their head, this will bring out two red horns and whiff of ammonia. It must be their defense. You want them in your yard to enjoy the adult swallowtails. Plant a wild lime (native tree, with curved pair of thorns), place any caterpillars on this plant. And enjoy

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