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Butterfly life cycle

August 30, 2007

We are a sciency family … it’s my fault and I love it!  We collected some Monarch caterpillars in Maine during our recent trip there… and of course… they went into the pupa stage and then into the chrysallis just in time for us to have to bring them to camp.. since they were due to ‘hatch’ on the final day of camp!
We dragged our silly bowl with us to camp and I photographed the chrysallis as it changed over time…

Day 1

crysallis.jpg

Day 10

almost-ready.jpg

One of our little winged wonders didn’t make it.  The chrysalis turned a funky color and then made no other changes on about day 6…  but #2 progressed as expected and hatched the night we returned from camp.  Here she (yes it’s  a SHE) is drying her wings .

10 minutes since hatching

drying.jpg

1 hour after hatch

butterfly.jpg

2 hours after hatch

dry.jpg

It was one of those nights where the weather was going to drop in temps pretty quick that night, so since she hadn’t eaten and hadn’t flown we ‘transported’ her inside and brought in a few flower clusters from our butterfly bush for the night.  The temps dropped into the mid 40s and it rained much of that night, so I’m glad we brought her in.

The next morning here’s what she looked like…

wings.jpg

When she started to ‘fly’ we took her outside..

flight.jpg

For 2 straight days it rained… and rained.. and rained…  I looked for her little body… expecting that she had died… but didn’t see her… and then the next day the sun came out.. and there she was… eating off the butterfly bushes!  I see her every day!  And now she has a ‘boy’ friend with her…  So we headed out yesterday in search of milkweed.. butterflies only lay their eggs on milkweed because the caterpillars will only eat the leaves of the milkweed plants…

I transplanted 3 milkweed plants into our yard and with the three plants we also got 2 more caterpillars!  So we’ll get to experience the process again!  This will be the ‘5th’ generation group (the new caterpillars that is)… and it’s the 5th generation each spring/summer that will migrate to Mexico/Southern California for the winter!  I do so hope that our Butterflies decide to lay eggs on our plants.. 🙂  I’ve been keeping my eyes out for activity on the plants from the butterflies…

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