Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Releasing our first monarch.

The last of our monarch caterpillars is now quietly resting in it's chrysalis, like those before it. They will spend 7-10 days at this stage before emerging as a butterfly.

Many of our caterillars formed their chrysalis on lid of our container and other formed theirs on the leaves of the milkweed. i decided to move them all to a stick, so that i didn't have to worry about the ones on the lid when i needed to take it off, and as the milkweed dies back the chrysalises would no longer be supported by the leaves.

To move the chrysalises, i used tweezers, little bits of paper and a hot glue gun. i removed the ones on the lid first. Use the tweezer to grab right at the top of the 'stem' as you gently pull it away from the lid, you will see the silk that the caterpillar used to attach himself there. Pull very gently, and the silk will detach. Then place a dot of glue on the silk and attach a small piece of paper to the stem. i did this will all the chrysalis before attaching them to the stick. Technically, you could attach the chrysalis directly to the stick, but i find attaching it to the paper makes it much easier to work with. When all of the chrysalis are attached to bits of paper, i then put a dot of glue on the paper and stuck it to the stick using the tweezers. Those chrysalis that were on the milkweed, i cut the milk weed leaves a bit smaller and glued the leaf directly to the stick.

Our first Chrysalis was already beginning to darken when we moved her. The next morning, she was completely transparent so we knew it was only a matter of minutes before she emerged. If you look closely at the chrysalis you can see it beginning to loosen from around the butterfly right before the chrysalis splits.

My daughter and i spent the morning waiting to see it emerge. Then i stepped outside for just a minute to feed to goats and chickens and when i came back inside she had already emerged. :)

We waited until my boy was home from school to release her. Her wings were already dry so she immediately flew into the peach tree, and the kids didn't get to hold her this time. We've been watching her flutter around the yard, and hang our on our butterfly bush.
In just another day or two, more will begin to emerge. Several of the cats formed their chrysalis all on the same day, so it will be really fun to release them all together.

There is something very magical about watching the butterflies emerge and fly away for the first time. You can almost see the butterflies dancing and spinning in dizzy circles as the realize they have wings. We feel very blessed to be able to witness the amazing transformation of the caterpillars, the emerging of the butterflies and then watching them fly away on brand new wings. This is truly a favorite part of our summertime.

"Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower." ~Hans Christian Anderson


  1. I love the idea of the hot glue, I often have problems with many chrysalises in funny spots in our aquarium. I might try it next year.

  2. I find this so magical indeed. Perhaps next summer we will be ables to observe such a wonderful part of the magic of nature. You and your children are very fortunate indeed!
    :) Christina

  3. We try to go to a thing called Flutterby Butterfly every year. It's in Grapevine Texas and they release thousands of Monarchs. It's so awesome to watch.

    Personally we have had bad luck with raising our own. Must not be doing something right!