A reader recently reached out to us from Colorado. She sent us a photo and wrote, “I found this cocoon near Denver. Do you know what is going to come out of it?” The photograph shows a small object that is gold and, well, beautiful! See for yourself:
We believe that either a moth or butterfly will emerge from this object, which our reader described as a “cocoon.” For anyone who might not know, a cocoon is the silk casing that covers and protects the organism (either a moth or butterfly) inside as it goes through its transition from larva to adult. The actual organism inside can be referred to as a pupa or chrysalis. The term pupa can refer to both butterflies and moths in this transformation stage, while the term chrysalis is strictly used for butterfly pupa. We encourage anyone interested in learning more about the lifecycle of moths and butterflies to check out this article!
Now does this cocoon contain a chrysalis or a moth pupa? We believe a butterfly will eventually emerge, meaning that this is a chrysalis! Unfortunately, we don’t know what species of butterfly this gold cocoon contains. According to Ask An Entomologist, in some species of butterflies the gold cocoon is created due to a mixture of organic pigments called carotenoid pigments (the same pigments that give leaves and carrots their color) and hill-like structures that reflect light. In other species, the gold is due to a multi layered structure called METAL that reflects a wide spectrum of wavelengths. So, although we know can offer some information about how the gold cocoon is created, we can’t determine which species of butterfly is undergoing a transformation inside of it.
To conclude, one of our readers sent us a picture of a beautiful, gold cocoon she found near Denver, Colorado. We don’t know what species of butterfly will emerge from it, but we encourage our reader to keep checking in on the cocoon, as she might be able to witness the grand exit for herself!