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Perspective: Metamorphosis

Kenneth Dwain Harrelson
Wikimedia Commons

This summer, I got to watch a tiny caterpillar turn into a vibrant black swallowtail butterfly on my dining room table. It was truly awesome.

It began when I stopped by a friend’s house to pick up some iris she had dug up, and as we fellow gardeners are wont to do, I asked for a garden tour. As we walked by their herb garden, my friend and one of her daughters reminisced about the many summers they had plucked a caterpillar from their dill plant to bring into their house to watch it grow and change. It was clearly a cherished memory.

A few days later, we spotted a tiny caterpillar on one of the many dill plants that had sprung up in the back of my vegetable garden. We very carefully transferred it to a glass jar and dropped in a big piece of dill. On the top, we attached a thin cloth lid with a rubber band. That was it, no food or water dish, no rock, just a chunk of fresh dill every two days.

So began the process of watching this minuscule creature munch on dill and develop into a very handsome black and yellow caterpillar well over an inch long. One day, the caterpillar had disappeared. In its place was a drab chrysalis.

And ten days after that, a gorgeous black swallowtail slowly emerged and spread its wings. It was ready to be released into the flowers to hopefully begin the process all over again.

I’m Deborah Booth and that’s my perspective.

Deborah Booth retired in Fall 2014 from NIU, where she was the director of External Programs for the College of Visual and Performing Arts.