On one of my recent photo walks at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, I came across something hanging from a Johnson Grass stem that I didn’t recognize. As a wildlife photographer, I encounter many strange and wonderful things in nature, but every now and then I see something that leaves me stumped.

Unidentified Chrysalis

Unidentified Chrysalis

This particular object was some sort of chrysalis attached to the stem. I took a photo of it so I could try to identify it later. After doing some research, I believe it is a Viceroy butterfly chrysalis. According to the description on the Alabama Butterfly Atlas, it fits: “Shiny brown and white. Abdomen is paler. Thorax has a large, knob-like projection. Also resembles a bird dropping.”

While I don’t often share photos of things I can’t identify right away, I think it’s important to document the natural world in all its mystery. I love when I capture an image of something that requires more digging to understand. It shows just how diverse and fascinating the wilderness can be, even to someone who observes it regularly. I’m thrilled I got to see and photograph this chrysalis in its natural state before the butterfly emerges. Just another memorable moment from my outdoor adventures photographing wildlife!

The Technical Details

For those fellow photographers and nature enthusiasts who are curious about the technical aspects of this shot, here are the details:

Date and Time: July 23, 2023, at 9:24:02 AM.
Camera: Canon EOS R5.
Lens: Canon RF 100-500 mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM telephoto zoom lens.
Settings: ISO 640 (Auto), aperture f/10, shutter speed 1/800 second, no exposure compensation. I had the camera in manual mode when I took the photograph.

Steve Creek, Wildlife Photographer