18 June 2020

The magic happens every June

In the final week of May we found Monarch butterfly eggs on the milkweed in our garden.  Those eggs were brought into the house and kept in sterilized containers.  When the first instar caterpillars emerged, they were provided with milkweed leaves.  The photo above shows the result about three weeks later.

These "cats" are now full-size, and they have explored their container to find a location for pupation.  Fortunately their little feetsies have no difficulty grasping the sides of this container (repurposed from mouse cages surplused by the local university).

When they reach the removable cover they socially distance themselves, then spin a mat of silk (not visible except for that tiny white dot between the surface and the tip of the abdomen).  They then assume this "J" position and begin the truly magical transformation into a chrysalis.

The next morning four of the five had completed the process.  Inside that chrysalis various body elements are busily rearranging themselves and creating wondrous new structures.

More later...


  1. Time to set them free! You must be the world's smallest butterfly farm.

  2. radiolab had a podcast episode about the goo in a chrysalis:

    https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/radiolab/episodes/black-box click on 'Go and You'



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