Sunday, September 14, 2014

Raising Monarchs II

Changes afoot. The long wait finally over!
After about 12 days I noticed the slightest change in color on the oldest chrysalis.

Only two hours later and I could see the pigmentation of the wings.

Early the next morning the chrysalis had turned dark and transparent.

By mid morning the butterfly emerged or eclosed as they say in lepidoptera talk.
It only took a minute or so. It happened very fast and I nearly missed it.

The monarch hung upside down from its chrysalis.
Busy at first, doing butterfly things and then quietly resting.
It's hard to believe that one month ago this beautiful butterfly 
was an egg the size of a pin head.

First the butterfly unfurled his proboscis, 
a tubular straw-like mouth part used to slurp up nectar,
and then extended his wet wings which takes about four hours 
to dry and harden before he can actually fly. 
This Monarch butterfly was a male. I called him King Louis XIV, the sun king.
He has two noticeable black spots on the outside of his hindwings which females don't have. 

In late afternoon I picked up Louis and set hime free near some lovely nectar plants.
He flew right up into a tree. No long goodbyes.
Louis is part of the great generation, the fourth and last generation of 
monarch butterflies for the year.  The monarch butterflies of the great generation 
travel thousands of miles to their wintering grounds in the 
Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico where millions of monarchs gather together 
by the end of October and hang like jewels from the trees in the forest 
roosting until next spring when they begin all over again.
Bon voyage, Louis!
Monarch numbers have been rapidly declining every year for the last ten years. 
Imagine that they once covered over forty acres of land in their winter roosts
and now only cover two acres or less. 
If you are interested in helping to save the Monarchs,
either by planting milkweed and nectar plants,
or raising them next season,


Deborah Darling said...

how lovely !! xxx

Sasha said...

So beautiful - so sad about their decline...

Lynn said...

Such a wondrous process. Amazing photos.
And yes, it's shocking to read of their decline.

Linda Ellett said...

Wow - excellent post and beautiful photos!! Thank you for sharing the adventure! It inspires me to go back and finally put together a post about my polliwog/froglette adventure!

holly aka golly said...

Deborah: Thank you!

Sasha & Lynn: I know, I didn't realize how bad it was until I started reading about it this summer and then raising them.

Linda: You should! Nature is so fascinating! I also posted a short video on my Facebook page of the last butterfly emerging.

nadine paduart said...

wow, WOW, WOW!

Noriko Stardust said...

How breathtakingly beautiful!! I had been following the progress on facebook, and my heart sung as the batterflies emerged. Though you must have felt a little sad to have to say good bye to them... Thank you for sharing.

holly aka golly said...

TinyWoolf: it is a wow moment, for sure!

Noriko: It was a little bittersweet but I hope they are wending their way to Mexico now!

Chris said...

Thank you for this! Just beautiful!