I’m a Monarch Butterfly Mom!

Today, after 18 days in chrysalis form, it happened.  On my previous post, you saw a bright green chrysalis.  This is that same chrysalis about ready to break open. I watched diligently for days, waiting for the process to begin as the chrysalis got darker and darker.  My camera was set up on a time lapse for at least 48 hours so I wouldn’t miss it like I did the chrysalis formation. But, naturally I had an appointment that took me away for 6 hours during which it all took place.  Thank goodness I had a camera going the whole time so we can see what happened.

Monarch Chrysalis 2 days Before the Break

Monarch Chrysalis 2 days Before the Break

The little gold dots are somewhat of a mystery but are believed to be related to organ functions while some say camouflage. Those on the top of the chrysalis are called spiracles and are thought to be for breathing.  You can see the wings starting to take shape as the colors give them away.

Black Monarch Chrysalis

Black Monarch Chrysalis

In only a few minutes, less than 5 according to the time on my camera, the male monarch emerges.  I could tell sex but looking at the dots below the cremaster (which is where it’s attached to the milkweed plant).  A tiny segment or indentation below six dots there indicates a female but this one didn’t have that so its a male.

The abdomen drops first

The abdomen drops first

The the wings which are all wrinkled

Then the wings which are all wrinkled and wet

Monarch Coming Out of Chrysalis

Monarch Coming Out of Chrysalis

Monarch

Monarch

Monarch Fully Emerged But unable to Fly Yet

Monarch Fully Emerged But unable to Fly Yet

From tiny Chrysalis to 2+ inch Butterlfy

From tiny Chrysalis to 2+ inch Butterfly

Compare the Chrysalis to the 4 inch wing span of the mature Monarch!

Compare the Chrysalis to the 4 inch wing span of the mature Monarch!

Stunning Transformation!

Stunning Transformation!

A Monarch can be released a few hours after emergence but its good to wait for good conditions.  It was 38 degrees this morning so I will wait until its a at least 70 degrees (below 60 and they can’t fly very well or at all).  I have a huge flower garden so he’ll have lots of nectar to lap up.  Plus, I’ve put cut flowers in the cage in case he gets thirsty before his release.  I just hope they return next year.  I’ll be watching!!

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