Monarch in the Making
Page 1: Caterpillar to Chrysalis
Page 2: Chrysalis to Butterfly

In the summer of 2009, my wife planted milkweed in our garden in order to attract monarchs so that she could bring the eggs or caterpillars inside and observe the process of metamorphosis. The plan worked. We successfully raised and released 5 butterflies, 2 from eggs and 3 from caterpillars.

Image 1

The monarch caterpillar has completely stripped the milkweed in our garden. Milkweed is the only the thing they'll eat and the only place that the adults lay their eggs.

photo of caterpillar

Image 2

A pair of caterpillars have been brought inside to live in a terrarium. Fortunately for us, the storm water management ponds across the street have plenty of milkweed, so keeping them well fed is not a problem.

photo of caterpillars

Image 3

In the evening, one of the caterpillars climbs to the top of the terrarium and begins hanging in a J shape. We see him here the next morning. Around noon, he starts become a bit shriveled and you can see the antennas wrinkling. After another hour it becomes quite noticable.


Image 4

At 1:29, the skin splits behind the head and the pupa begins to appear. One minute later, the pupa's head has completely emerged.


Image 5

The pupa keeps wiggling as the skin curls up around the base. By 1:32, the skin has been almost completely shed.


Image 6

The pupa keeps wiggling and in within a minute the skin falls off.


Image 7

Ten minutes later, we see the pupa begin to change shape and harden. These pictures were taken at 1:42, 1:48, 1:58 (much less wiggling by now), and at 2:19 the chrysalis has taken on its final shape.

See a video of the transformation.

See also photos of the two butterflies raised from eggs.


Image 8

Here's a chrysalis we found near the milkweed in the garden. The leaf it's on will break off during a storm and we take it inside for protection, but this one doesn't make it.


Continue to Part 2: Chrysalis to Butterfly

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©2010 by Robert Cantor