The chrysalises in these cases are the pupas of the butterflies, enclosed in firm casings. The chrysalises are shipped directly from
Costa Rica and El Salvador to the Butterfly Garden.
When its development is complete, the adult butterfly splits the pupal shell and crawls out. The wings are wrinkled and wet, and the
butterfly's abdomen is very large. The newly emerged butterfly clings to the casing of the chrysalis and unfolds its wings while
fluids from its abdomen are pumped into the veins of the wings, expanding them. It then holds the wings spread out like
a kite until they dry and harden. After a few hours when the wings are dry and the abdomen reduces to a normal size,
the butterfly flies away, ready to feed and mate. Most adult butterflies live just one or two weeks. A few types,
such as anglewings and the migratory generation of monarchs, may live six months or more.
Information adapted from Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2006. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation.
Finally, although the butterflies in the Garden mate, the females do not lay their eggs. The female is able to sense with her feet the appropriate
plant for her caterpillars. However, the plants in the Garden have been carefully selected to exclude the host plants for any of the
butterfly species. The Detroit Zoo is legally restricted from the reproduction of butterflies. Furthermore, caterpillars would be
destructive to the plants in the Garden.
This information comes from my wife, Carol, who served as a volunteer in the Butterfly Garden for a number of years.