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June 29, 2011

It's a Butterfly!

On Friday the first pupa became a butterfly, exactly 10 days after it formed its chrysalis. Thursday night we thought it looked slightly darker than the second one.

Monarch butterfly "hatching" from its chrysalis.

By morning, it was definitely darker, and as we checked it throughout the morning it changed to blue-black. We could eventually see the red and black stripes on the wings inside.

Monarch butterfly "hatching" from its chrysalis.

It began to change shape slightly too, becoming plumper. Before lunch we could tell which side of the chrysalis would be the body of the butterfly; the colored wings formed the other side.

Monarch butterfly "hatching" from its chrysalis.

And then, it was a butterfly!

A monarch butterfly emerges from its chrysalis!

We missed it emerging from the transparent chrysalis, which was split open and left hanging on the dried leaf.

What a fun learning experience it was to watch these monarch caterpillars change into butterflies.

How beautiful! God's creation is so awesome!

What a fun learning experience it was to watch these monarch caterpillars change into butterflies

It was in pristine condition, of course, untouched by wind and weather. Every black and orange stripe, every white dot, the legs and head were sharp and visible.

Watching monarch caterpillars change into butterflies

It's a girl butterfly, according to the Monarch Butterfly USA website: there is no black spot on the bottom wings. Our granddaughter named her Penelope.

Watching monarch caterpillars change into butterflies

We watched for awhile as the wings dried and the butterfly rested.

Our butterfly flight cage

We'd bought a white mesh laundry hamper to use as a butterfly "cage" to protect the butterfly from our housecats until it is ready to be let loose outside. We put it upside-down over the vase of dried milkweed with the first butterfly and the second chrysalis. We can see through it, although it's hard to take photos through it.

Watching monarch caterpillars change into butterflies

The cats noticed the fluttering butterfly the next morning, so we moved the upside-down hamper from the kitchen island to the master bathroom and closed the door so the cats can't get in there. The ice cream bucket that holds the vase that holds the milkweed branch that holds the second chrysalis was left on the kitchen island. The chrysalis was already beginning to change color, and we wanted to watch the metamorphosis without the mesh in the way.

Watching monarch caterpillars change into butterflies

The second chrysalis continued to change color throughout the day, and at bedtime we decided to put the vase back in the "flight cage" just in case, and I banished the cats from the bedroom for the night. Sure enough, when I came back inside from morning chores, we had two butterflies.

Watching monarch caterpillars change into butterflies

This one's wings were more wrinkled than Penelope's had been. She spent the morning resting and drying her wings. (It's another girl; our granddaughter named her Pam.)

Watching monarch caterpillars change into butterflies

We then let Penelope go. Our little girl carried her outside to the plum tree's shade, opened the top of the container, and away Penelope flew! It was a windy day and she was caught by the breeze and really took off, disappearing from view. Bye, Penelope! That was sad, but we were happy that we still had Pam to watch for another day. There were many butterflies of other varieties outside, so we knew there must be plenty of flowers for Penelope to drink nectar from.

Watching monarch caterpillars change into butterflies

Pam rested her wrinkly wings for the rest of the day and frankly, hubby and I were a little worried about her. I even poked her once to make sure she was alive. The next morning she'd been flying though - she'd landed on the side of the "flight cage". Her wings just aren't as flat and pretty as Penelope's were.

Watching monarch caterpillars change into butterflies

We saved her once from Tink the cat. Tink jumped up on the bathroom counter and knocked the flight cage over. Pam flew crookedly across the floor and I grabbed the cat. I convinced our granddaughter that we should let Pam go that evening, and so we did. Pam flew to the grass, and then to a nearby tree, and we said goodbye.

Monarch butterfly

We hope we'll see Penelope and Pam flying across the yard occasionally. This was a great learning experience for all of us.

Monarch butterfly

Part One

Part Two

Part Three - this post


  1. Wow! That is an amazing process! Thank you so much for sharing that. I enjoyed all the photos. Blessings to you all! Bravo!

  2. I loved your article and the photos! This must have been terrific fun for yur granddaughter!

  3. Such beautiful photos! How wonderful to be able to watch that process. Great learning experience!

    1. Thank you, Michelle. It was simply amazing to watch.


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