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Diapause

When Paul and I returned from Ukraine & Ireland, I was pleased to find my parsley plant covered with Black Swallowtail caterpillars. We had several caterpillars last year, but this year a total of 32 were eating, hiding, and enjoying my herb garden. I brought them into my butterfly house, provided them with organic parsley, cleaned out the frass daily and waited. They grew…and grew…and grew. Finally, they were ready to form their chrysalis and prepare for the time they would eclose.

But this year was different. There were a few that didn’t make it to the chrysalis stage. Four formed their chrysalis, but then were invaded by Chalcid wasps (equivalent of our Invasion of the Body Snatchers). When the first butterfly came out, its wings never developed for flight. I cried. Butterflies were made to fly. Several more emerged and flew off to the East. Currently I have about 8 chrysalis left, which have decided to diapause or over-winter (insect’s version of hibernation).

I researched and discovered I must place the butterflies outside, still in their house, in a protected space such as a porch with an overhang or a garage. I choose my garage and placed them up off the floor with a towel covering two sides of the house. They need protection from predators as well as some humidity and ventilation. Now, as the butterfly waits for spring, so do I. I am hopeful that they will emerge triumphantly next spring and fly off, perhaps returning to lay more eggs in my little herb garden.

As I contemplated my butterflies this year, I thought of how their metamorphosis is a perfect picture of ours. Some mature more quickly and emerge ready to fly. Others are attacked by the enemy or consumed by vices or the troubles of life and never emerge. Some think they are ready to fly, as they have made it through their metamorphosis, but still cling to the earth and don’t let their wings develop enough to fly. They are afraid, unsure of their newfound abilities. They cling to the life they knew before, even if it was painful because it’s what they know and it seems more comfortable. Then there are those who only need more time. They are changing and growing, but winter approaches. They know it’s not time to fly. It’s time to rest. Eclosing now would mean death. So, they wait.

What phase of metamorphosis are you in? If you are allowing growth and change, if you are resting when the winter of life comes, you are on the right path to becoming who you were meant to be. But, if you are afraid of the changes, if you complete your metamorphosis, but you’re afraid to spread your wings and fly, don’t despair…others have been there before, as well. You’re not alone. Don’t be afraid of this change. It’s new and strange, but it’s where you’re meant to be. You were meant to spread your wings and fly. And if you’re in the stage where you are allowing harm into your life whether from others or yourself, make the decision to stand up and say, “No More. This stops today.” Don’t let the “parasites” consume you. Finish your transformation.

Embrace the change. Eclose or diaspause. But grow. Be at peace and find gratitude and joy in your metamorphosis.