Every now and then one is privileged enough to witness Mother Nature at her very best. And today was one of those times at the Historic Gardens!
We’ve been watching three monarch caterpillars for the past few weeks, brought in to us for safekeeping until they are released, and for educational purposes. We’ve all studied metamorphosis in school… but to witness it first hand is another thing altogether!
The caterpillars were small, but as they settled into their glass house they started to eat… and eat, and eat!
Eventually each, in turn, spun a little silk and then hung in a “J” shape for a day or so, getting ready for their next stage.
Then they started to wiggle, and soon afterward their skin started to split and in the span of just a few minutes they shed their caterpillar skin and turned into a green chrysalis.
The chrysalis smoothed out, some metallic green dots and decorations appeared and the chrysalis just hung around for the next week or more.
Then it was time. The green chrysalis started to darken yesterday, and then became transparent – by this morning you could see the butterfly clearly through the chrysalis.
By this afternoon, more subtle changes and then, when I wasn’t looking, a beautiful female butterfly emerged from the chrysalis.
When I first saw her she was very new and her wings were still somewhat wrinkled. As we watched, she pumped her wings – pushing the liquid in her abdomen into the wings.
After a couple hours here wings were full size, flattened out, and simply gorgeous!
Chrysalis #1 has now emerged, as of this day. Chrysalis #2 will emerge within the next day or two. #3 is about a week behind the others.
We will be releasing #1 into the wild within the next couple days, and probably #2 at the same time!