I've been raising monarch caterpillars (photos below) again this summer, but this is a cat of a different breed.
This is a monarch cat...with its two sets of antennae and yellow/black/white banding.
While I was out in my wildflower patch to get food for my monarch cats, ...
...my eyes spied this gorgeous little creature munching on Queen Anne's lace. A little research and confirmation from my high school entomologist friend identifies it as a black swallowtail cat.
I thought these might be even different, but it seems that black swallowtails can be either more white or more green in appearance.
I've found 6 or 7 of these cats on Queen Annes' lace plants and brought them inside...I'm sure I could find more if I tried. Queen Anne's lace is a very plentiful food supply!
While monarch cats hang upside down and form a "J" when they are ready for form their chrysalis, not so with the swallowtail cats.
They scrunch themselves up into a comma shape and stay that way for a couple of days...
...before forming their odd chrysalis, which looks much like a leaf. It's no wonder we don't see these in the wild...very cleverly camouflaged! After a few days, the chrysalis turns more of a brown color.
I am still awaiting the emergence of my first swallowtail...I'll be sure to share photos when it happens.
Since they aren't fighting for food (monarchs eat milkweed, swallowtails eat Queen Anne's lace), my monarch cats are happily sharing their square enclosure with a different butterfly breed this year.
We've got new cats on the block.