Nature’s cruelty

Here’s an update on my Black Swallowtail Caterpillar/Butterfly post

We had our two caterpillars that we were super excited about growing and watching transform into beautiful butterflies.┬áThe first couple of days we got to see one caterpillar immediately transform itself to a chrysalis. It was hanging from the top of the butterfly garden which is a slick plastic material so we weren’t sure it’d stick. It did.

The second caterpillar hung on a branch for a while and we kept waiting for it to move to the netting along the side, or the top like it’s companion, but it did nothing. Nothing. Just hung on a branch until it literally dried up and … died. It was sad, but with hope remaining in the chrysalis, Little G scooped up the carcass and threw it in the garbage (unlike her mother who would have donned plastic gloves before touching it).

The chrysalis laid dormant for a good 10 – 11 days. I noticed a couple of days ago that it was looking smaller and darker on only one part of the chrysalis. I wasn’t too hopeful. Fast forward to this morning when I checked in on it again and it looked darker overall and crunchier. I thought for sure it was dead.

Just an hour later Little G comes running over to me screaming, “It’s out of its chrysalis! It’s coming out!!”

“What? I just checked it!” Sure enough, it was out.

Only thing, it looked like it was tangled up on itself. It had fallen to the bottom of the butterfly garden and looked like it was trying to pull itself out of a tight pair of jeans. Even Little G noticed that something wasn’t right. “It looks like it’s struggling.”

I suggested we give it some time, maybe put it out in the sun to help dry out all the liquid it seemed to have surrounding it.

Long story short, about an hour later, this little thing was definitely not right. Its wing was folded over on itself and twisted; there was no way it was going to be able to fly. I think back on my having looked on it early on and keep thinking, “If only I’d straightened him out earlier, maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad.” But, it is what it is.

We’d talked about it not being able to survive when we set it free. The girls didn’t take that too well and cried a bit knowing its fate. Palo Alto suggested “putting it out of its misery.”┬áNice eh??

It was painful to look at it. So beautiful, yet so … wrong. It really bummed me out. First because my children were hurting, but also because it didn’t have a chance.

Beauty on beauty / Image rights -

I used it as a moment for us to talk about disabilities and physical challenges. I told the girls that even babies aren’t born “perfect” but we still love them. My second daughter, my animal lover, replied, “Yeah, we still love our butterfly.” Something about the way she said it, she made me cry.

We let our butterfly go and it got a chance to walk around in our backyard with the girls assisting it. I then left for work and didn’t come back until late afternoon.

I walked in the door and Little G quickly ran up to me and whispered, “Butterfly died today. The ants ate it. We cried Mama.”

Nature can be so cruel.



  1. wah. this is making me so sad. nature can be awful. i can hardly watch the nature channel, as something is always dying or being mauled to death! i’d never make it out in the wild, that is for sure. :[

  2. Girl, best you weren’t here to see this butterfly. Serious tears in my eyes.

    Yeah, you nor I would make it out of the wild. We’d be balled up somewhere under a tree crying or watching the coyotes and wolves circle around us to kill us.

    There are other reasons we can’t watch the Nature Channel. Too much sex.

    Make it a great day!!

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