Monday, May 7, 2018

Life Cycle of a Monarch Butterfly in my Yard

Butterfly garden in my backyard around a fig tree. It all began here.
In late March the Monarchs returned from their migration. They found the new milkweed right away.
 And set about laying eggs on the backs of the milkweed leaves.

Monarch butterfly egg on a milkweed leaf. The egg stage lasts 4 to 6 days.
In about five days I could see the head of a new caterpillar about to emerge from an egg.
The new caterpillar eats the egg case.
 Day 2...the caterpillar has already grown, but is still tiny at only a few mm long.
April 5, Day 3, Monarch larva is busy eating the milkweed leaf. Measures 4 mm long. The "1" on the ruler is one centimeter.
Day 4: April 6, 2018. A hungry, hungry caterpillar. 
One week, April 9, about 7 mm long.
Eating a flower bud.
 One centimeter long, April 11.
April 13, growing faster every day.
Still eating at two weeks.
Two weeks, 2 1/2 cm long. The caterpillar (larval) stage lasts 2 to 3 weeks.
The caterpillar has stopped eating and ventured off the milkweed to find a suitable place to form its chrysalis. It started up the fig tree in this photo.
This one chose a spot on the electric post. It attached itself under a wooden board and made this J shape. I watched it doing crunches for a long time, then left to go to dinner. When I came back...
Voila! The caterpillar is now inside its chrysalis. So sorry I missed watching that happen.
I also found another chrysalis on the underside of the bird bath,
Butterfly watch had begun. When the sun is shining on them, you can see the wings inside.
The chrysalis on the bird bath was ready to emerge first. The chrysalis (pupal) stage lasts 5 to 15 days.
It looked like this on Sunday morning, May 6, at 9:30 when I left for church. I knew it would be soon.
After church, at noon, we have a butterfly still drying its wings on the side of the bird bath!
The two black dots on the yellow part of the secondary wings tells me this one is a male. So his name is Archie.
Archie the Monarch flew to the top of the fig tree until he was ready to eat.
Archie's empty chrysalis.
On Monday morning the other chrysalis was showing the same changes. In this picture you can see that the chrysalis is cracking.
And voila! A new creation! God's creations are awesome and this metamorphosis is a marvelous mystery.
The butterfly hangs for one to two hours to allow its wings to expand and dry out.
Wings fanning out. 

Do you see the butterfly hanging on the electric meter post?

Crawling off the chrysalis. 
Crawling onto my hand for a ride to the flower garden. 
It's a female, and I named her Mona. 
The adult butterfly stage lasts 2 to 5 weeks in summer, several months for the over-wintering generation in Mexico.
Soon there will be a new generation of butterflies as the females start laying eggs on the milkweed.
Hope you enjoyed.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful compilation of pictures, Liz! This could be made into a picture book for children about Monarch Butterfly Metamorphosis! You really should think about doing this! I would buy it-----I have never been able to capture egg hatching pictures and tiny caaterpillars----wonderful work!