Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Becoming Monarch

Once the last of the caterpillars became chrysalises, we waited patiently. One morning a chrysalis from an earlier batch was ready to emerge. It's casing had become clear, and we could see the orange and black of the wings inside. I went into my office for 15 minutes, came back out and discovered a butterfly. Rats. So when this little fellow showed signs of emerging, I sat with my camera at the ready.

He took his sweet time....

But finally, a crack appeared.

Then legs pushed at the casing.

Finally the abdomen slipped out,

...and he did a nifty acrobatic move to flip around and cling to the casing. We knew we had a male thanks to the pincher-like protuberance at the end of its abdomen.

At this point the abdomen began pumping fluid into the wings, stretching and elongating them.

After several hours of drying out we got him to crawl up on a stick, where he sat for several more hours before taking to the air. All the way to Mexico he will go. With any luck, some of his descendants will make it to our back yard next summer, when we will certainly be ready to offer a little assistance in hatching another generation of monarchs.


  1. The caterpillar is dead; long live the Monarch!

    These are incredible photos! Here's hope you're grandparents next year!

  2. Oh my gosh....this is the coolest post! I love seeing the transition. Completely think he was a crawly just a short while ago.

  3. How patient you were, and what a great moment to be patient in! Those photos are just amazing. Thank you for sharing the birth of a beautiful butterfly.