Vital life

A sprig from a plant with small red flowers [Jatropha gossypifolia]. The large green caterpillar became the liver-coloured chrysalis then the large grey moth with six orange/yellow spots on its body [Cocytius antaeus]; a yellow butterfly.Maria Merian, the first European naturalist to take note of and include all life stages of the butterfly in a single picture plane. Plate 38 Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium, 1705.

Where to begin… unravelling thoughts layered and tangled in a heap.

Cicadas, butterflies, caterpillars, eggs, pupae and nymphs; egg laying, shell shedding and hatching. In 1699 at the age of fifty two Marie Merian sailed with her daughter from the Netherlands to the Caribbean, where she observed and recorded the lifecycle of butterflies and other insects including all stages of transformation in the one scene — busily at work eating, or at rest transforming — amongst the plant life that supported them, and often the creatures that in turn, ate them. She had planned to find a spice of equivalence to the marketability of black pepper, before being seduced by the wonder of small winged life.* Unplanned, before this post there's the butterfly watched by the cat. Unravelling over the next few entries.

*Over the last few weeks at breakfast I've been reading Marina Warner's Fantastic Metamorphosis, Other worlds

Meanwhile, here's a curious animation of the breathing aparatus of a mealworm pupa…

Author: Marcin Ras MIZ PAS, Zoological Museum (m.ras@muzeum.miiz.waw.pl) micro-CT Bruker SkyScan 1172