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 9

Nine days after formation of the chrysalis, you can begin to see the patterns of the wings showing through. The first picture was taken in the afternoon; by the next morning the chrysalis had become very dark with the wings showing much more clearly.

At 9:16, a little door popped open and the butterfly began pushing on it with her feet.


Image 10

At 9:17, the swollen abdomen drops straight down as the butterfly emerges. The abdomen is filled with fluid that will be pumped into the wings.

Watch it happen in a short video.


Image 11

The wings expand as the abdomen shrinks. These photos are taken at 9:19, 9:21, 9:22 and 9:24.


Image 12

By 9:28, the wings appear to have reached their full size, but the butterfly will continue making small pumping motions for the next 20 minutes while still hanging from the empty chrysalis.

The butterfly crawls off the chrysalis at 11:35, so I take it outside and put it on a flower in the sun. When it finally opens its wings, I can see that it's a female. At 12:23, she flies away.


Here are some photographs of the adult butterflies. You can clearly see the spot on the wing which distinguishes the male from the female. Click on any of the pictures to see a larger image:

female monarch butterfly
Millicent the Monarch
female monarch butterfly male monarch butterfly
Marvin the Monarch
monarch butterfly
Marvin gets buzzed by a skipper
monarch butterfly
This one was released in 2011
monarch butterfly
This one was released in 2010

And here's a few other butterflies from our garden and the ponds across the street:

variagated fritillary
Variagated Fritillary
painted lady butterfly
Painted Lady
buckeye butterfly
black swallowtail butterfly
Black Swallowtail
tiger swallowtail butterfly
Tiger Swallowtail
tiger swallowtail butterfly (dark form, female)
Tiger Swallowtail (dark form, female)

Return to Part 1: Caterpillar to Chrysalis

Come visit my Home Page while you're here.
Questions, comments, suggestions? Please contact

©2010 by Robert Cantor