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Posts Tagged ‘metamorphosis’

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I’ve recently discovered a new interest – the Monarch Butterfly.  I’ve always admired butterflies and now have a new appreciation for them.  Not only are they stunningly beautiful, but the process they go through from egg to maturity is incredible.  I was able to witness it first hand this past month.

 

My son, Alex, raised Monarchs when he was a kid and as a mom I didn’t have time to really appreciate the process.  Alex continues to have an interest in butterflies and encouraged me to grow milkweed for the Monarchs.  This summer I had several milkweed plants that came up around our patio and instead of pulling them, I let them grow.  All through the summer I watched for the appearance of a Monarch Caterpillar, but none were there…..until about a month ago.

 

As I was taking my dog, Denver, out to the back yard, I stopped to check out the milkweed and was very excited to see it covered with caterpillars.  I immediately told my son about it and he was equally excited.  I decided to bring several in and raise them.

 

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My first Monarch caterpillar

 

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Milkweed with lots of caterpillars (and yes, their ‘frass–another word for poo)

 

I purchased a butterfly enclosure and set up my butterfly house.  Every day I discovered new caterpillars on the milkweed around my home.  I also found milkweed plants in the field behind our house as well as at our cottage.  Eventually I wound up with over 30 caterpillars.  

 

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My Monarch enclosure

 

It was exciting to see them go through all of the phases from egg, to teeny, tiny caterpillars and finally the big, plump ones that were ready to pupate into their chrystallis.  It was a thrill the first time I actually witnessed one shedding it’s last caterpillar skin to become a chrystallis.

 

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Not a great photo, but he’s becoming a chrystallis.

 

Then came the most exciting part…..one of mine reached maturity and I was able to watch the butterfly emerge from the chrystallis.

 

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It’s almost time

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Here he comes

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Almost there…

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There he is. 🙂

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Wings are pumped up and need to dry.

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I got to hold him on my finger

 

After his wings were totally dry, he climbed onto my finger and after a few minutes he took off on his first flight.  He flew across the yard and landed on my Red Honeysuckle.  It was a very exciting and rewarding experience – one that I will get to experience 30+ more times over the next few weeks.

 

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Resting on Red Honeysuckle after is first flight

Butterflies are unbelievably beautiful and I was so happy that I had a hand in helping one reach maturity.  As I get older I seem to be developing a greater appreciation of things in nature.  In my opinion, God was extra creative in creating these beautiful butterflies.

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More about Monarchs (ok, now I’m gonna preach a little bit)

As I began to do research into the Monarch butterfly I learned that their numbers have decreased dramatically over the last 20 years.  There are several factors that have contributed, but I found out that there are two ways we can help the Monarch.  First we can plant milkweed.  That is the sole source of nourishment for the Monarch caterpillars and there is not enough of it.  Second,  if you have the time/desire, you can bring them in from the wild and raise them in a protected environment.  By doing this it protects them from many things that keep them from reaching adulthood – predators, parasites……   If interested in learning more these are some great videos on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=butterfly+mrlundscience

Here is an article about the decreasing numbers of Monarchs.

http://blog.nwf.org/2017/02/new-numbers-show-monarch-butterfly-populations-still-in-trouble/

 

 

 

 

 

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