We've been all about monarchs the past few weeks here, ever since we found caterpillars on my one lone milkweed plant that I grew from seed. (remember those seeds? ) We had our first butterfly eclose on Sunday while we were at Mass - lovely to come home to but we were naturally hoping to be able to watch some emerge. Today was clearly the day for two more.
The bottom of the lovely chrysalis splits open and
slowly yet quickly and smoothly
out slides the new butterfly. It just takes a minute or so.
You can see the great abdomen swollen with liquid and the small crumpled wings. So tiny and fragile.
As the butterfly pumps up its wings the abdomen shrinks. You can watch the wings grow slowly larger.
The new monarch undergoes this transformation all while hanging on with its four main legs, clinging with its tiny 'toes'. One of ours actually seemed to have a little trouble getting a hold on the slippery chrysalis and it repeatedly slid down. The butterfly sits very still as it waits for its wings to enlarge and dry.
While the first one was resting the next one emerged a short time later -
This one moved quickly over to the leaves which seemed much easier to get a grip on.
Here you can see the size difference of the wings. The monarch on the left emerged 27 minutes ahead of the one on the right. The left one has full sized wings while the other is still small and crumpled.
After about half an hour the monarch does a little preliminary fluttering, just moving the wings open a tiny bit. It was so curious to watch as it turned its head from side to side, moving its various new anatomical structures and repeatedly uncurling and curling its long proboscis.
And then a couple of hours later we finally got to see the wings in all their splendor! The vivid coloring of a brand new monarch has an unusual depth and richness to it. So perfect.
We named this guy Wenceslaus after the feast celebrated today.
It takes about six hours before a monarch is ready to fly. When he got a little active and crawling around a bit we took him outside.
He took a short little test flight over to Lydia's bright shirt.
a little longer sail over to the laundry -
Meanwhile back inside we had this little lady whom Kateri named Margaret -
Can you 'spot' the difference between her and Wencey?
Margaret has taken off on her long journey to Mexico whilst Wenceslaus is still waiting for the perfect moment to depart off into the wild blue yonder.
I'm not sure which is more mind boggling - the metamorphosis into a butterfly or the thought of these little ones flying all the way to Mexico. So much wonder and beauty in such a little creature.