All life is amazing to me–both plant and animal. It’s just so complex. Almost every year we look for monarch butterfly larvae, and every year when those chrysalises break open and butterflies climb out, I am mind blown.
Early in August, one of our friends gave us two monarch babies that we called “the twins”. They were really tiny when we got them. Here’s one.
A few days later:
A week or so later, I found another caterpillar (I know it’s really called “larvae” but caterpillar is more fun & cute) while I was running. I carried that guy for two miles.
Campbell has a milkweed plant in her butterfly garden. When picking dinner for the twins, I found two eggs. They both hatched! They were SO tiny. I found a magnifying app for my phone and took this pic.
At that point, the butterfly house contained the twins, the mini twins, and the big guy that I had found running. The big guy made his chrysalis a few days after I picked him up. Unfortunately, he wasn’t smart and he chose a spot on the side of the butterfly house instead of on the top (like on the screen side). A ton of fluid ran down the side of the screen, and his chrysalis never formed. That was our first chrysalis failure. We’ve never had caterpillars hang in a “J” and not make it.
One day while walking in the park, we found another caterpillar. He only lived as a larvae for a few days before making his chrysalis.
Meanwhile, we fed the twins and the mini twins daily. But those babies were so TINY. We lost them. The original twins did great, though. Here they are in their little chrysalises:
We stopped adding fresh milkweed because all three larvae had made their cocoons. And then, all of the sudden, there was a caterpillar crawling on the side of the butterfly house. One of the mini twins had survived after all! We gave this one two two girls in our neighborhood. We never did find the other mini twin, so I guess he didn’t make it.
Over the weekend, I discovered that we have another variety of milkweed growing in Campbell’s butterfly garden. I guess we planned that garden pretty well. It’s called “butterfly weed”. I found another smallish caterpillar on it. I wonder how many monarch babies came and went on that plant that I didn’t even know about?
We decided to give that one away, too. A friend is bringing it into her second grade classroom.
Over the long weekend, all of our butterflies ended their short summer’s nap! It was fun being here to see it. The kids took turns letting them go. Campbell had on her pajamas and some kitty ears she made out of a head band and some chenille stems. Oh, and a scarf that was a “tail” tied around her waist.
Newly hatched butterflies are so perfect for taking photos of because they just sit there drying out their wings.
Last year, we hatched painted ladies that we ordered in the mail, but monarchs are still our favorites.
Have you ever “raised” butterflies? It’s such a fun way to enjoy the insect life cycle with a non-creepy insect. I highly recommend it! 🙂