Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Last Monarch of Summer

We raised 11 mail-order monarch butterflies this summer.  After they flew off, we were delighted to find a half-dozen wild caterpillars on our milkweeds. We waited for them to build chrysalises in our front yard, but one by one, they disappeared. We were so disappointed, and that's when we found out from some members of "The Beautiful Monarch" group on Facebook that we probably should have brought our wild caterpillars into the house to raise. 

On September 18th, I found a caterpillar on the holly bush. He was in the J-shape caterpillars assume just before they build their chrysalis. So we had a survivor after all! I had been looking for chrysalises on the milkweed plants, but learned from the Facebook group that caterpillars don't usually build their chrysalises on milkweeds. A day later, there was no sign of the J-shaped caterpillar, so I assumed we had lost him too.

Then, on September 20th, I spotted a chrysalis on our front porch, near the ceiling. If that was the holly-bush caterpillar, he'd made quite a journey. 

Ten days passed. Nothing happened. It had been cool and rainy, so we were afraid this little guy was never going to emerge. Then, two weeks after the chrysalis appeared, it began to darken, a welcome sign that a butterfly was on its way. Finally, around 7 AM on October 7th--again, it was cool and rainy--the butterfly emerged. He sat absolutely still for three hours. He was still perched motionless when I left the house after 10. When I got home around 2, the sun was shining and he was gone.

With Hurricane Matthew battering the east coast,  I hope he takes the inland route to Mexico.


peppylady (Dora) said...

I've never heard of anyone raising Monarch.
Stop in from Professor...If you find the time stop in for a cup of coffee.

KathyA said...

This is so amazing!!!

Nancy Chisum said...

I had never even thought about the possibility of ordering monarchs! How cool!