The something new I learned this minute: that the preferred plural form of chrysalis offered in the Merriam-Webster’s unabridged dictionary is chrysalides; the main stress is on the second syllable and the last syllable is pronounced “deez.” Me, I would have guessed, and written, chrysalises–and the M-W unabridged lists that second. (The abridged dictionary entry, which is not so different from the unabridged one, is here.)

Anyway, these chrysalides are both of the anise swallowtail variety. The one on the left is probably a couple weeks old and is strapped onto a fairly conspicuous spot on a fennel plant next door. It’s about two weeks old and has started to show that yellow color along its abdomen in just the last couple of days. That little piece of material below it is its last larval skin (see “Mascot Caterpillar” for what these guys look like before they go into the chrysalis).

The chrysalis on the right is also an anise swallowtail. It’s older–but I’m not sure how much older. It attached itself to the rarely visited north side of our house (don’t believe your monitors–the stucco isn’t really pink). When I first saw it back there this afternoon while on a foliage-clearing expedition I thought it was a curled-up leaf stuck to the wall. I’m not coordinated enough to do the “hold you thumb next to it so we get the scale” trick; but like the other chrysalis it’s maybe an inch and a half long. If you click on the picture, you can see the chrysalis looks like it’s cracking. Don’t know whether that’s a sign the adult butterfly is ready to emerge or not.

Maybe we’ll be tweeting its progress.

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