Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Our first Monarch release.

Remember those monarch eggs we found at the end of August? The eggs hatched, and the little caterpillars munched and munched.

We continued to give them fresh milkweed leaves, and they continued to grow.

They munched and crunched until they were ready to transform, and then they formed their chrysalis among the milkweed leaves.

i moved our chrysalis onto a stick, because i was afraid the remaining caterpillars would eat the leaves that it was on. i remove them by gently pulling on the silk that holds them to the milkweed. Then i add a dot of hot glue to the stick and attached the silk/stem with tweezers. Someday i'll take a picture of the process. It's really not difficult to do. Then i put the chrysalis tree on our nature table. i hot glued a few acorns on it as well, just as decorations.

When the butterfly is ready to emerge the chrysalis turns transparent and the orange and black of the wings can be seen. Sometimes the chrysalis will turn very dark before the butterfly emerges, so don't automatically assume it is black death if the chrysalis turns black.

Usually we get to watch the butterfly emerge, and i am right there taking pictures. This time however, i totally missed it. Came in the house and saw the butterfly already hanging upside down drying her wings.

We brought her outside to stretch her wings.

She opened and closed her wings a couple of times before she finally fluttered away. :)

i don't know why, but this year there were very few butterflies. The ones we did have came much later than usual. We only found a few monach eggs/caterpillars and when we went back to look for more all the milkweed had already died back. i'm hoping next year the butterflies will return!


  1. Your photos are extraordinary!!! The whole thing is magical. I have to share this one with my daughter. And facebook, I think.
    Topping it off with your wonderful creations is just perfect.

  2. Too cool!! This brings back memories - my Mom used to do this with us, and also (being a teacher) for her classroom. But she would find a chrysalis so we could watch the process; she never started with eggs. I have milkweed on our property, but I've never found a chrysalis, so maybe next year I'll look for eggs instead!

  3. Magical, the monarch caterpillar is one of our favourites, but unfortunately one we can't see as we live in the UK. lovely to see in detail here :)

  4. do they usually hatch around 2 weeks after forming the chrysalis, tree? that is what a book we have says (for monarchs) we are headed out of town for 5 days! do i think i'll have to put our chrysalis back outside in case is opens while we are gone! it's 2 weeks tomorrow and we leave on friday.

  5. Weird not showing me what I'm typing any more. Any way, the nodes on the bottom wings are indication of a male butterfly. Regardless, you have amazing beautiful butterfly pictures! I hope to experience the emergence soon.