Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tuesday Slice: Birthing butterflies, part two

Two weekends ago, I was fortunate to watch the "birth" of six butterflies over a three-day period.  They started off as caterpillars, eating away at my potted milkweed on the back porch.  This is the last installment of my experience as a butterfly "mom".

The second monarch emerged outside, not long after I took my makeshift chrysalis box to the back porch to allow the first monarch and second queen to finish strengthening their wings to fly.

I sat on the porch for a long while, waiting for wings to dry and get strong, hoping to keep the birds away.

After a couple of hours, the monarch was ready--and away, flying first to the north, then circling back to our tree.

Four down, two to go!

While checking on the remaining two chrysalises Sunday morning, I noticed one was getting close to emerging.  

I was worried about the last chrysalis.  It was evident that it hadn't formed properly, and I really didn't expect it to complete metamorphosis.

The third monarch emerged indoors.  I now knew that it took several hours for the wings to unfold and strengthen, so I wasn't in such a hurry to get it outside.

After my coffee and usual Sunday t.v. time, I headed once more to the back porch to expose the butterfly to fresh air, sunlight, and open sky.

Keeping watch on the last chrysalis, I was surprised to see the stripes and spots so clearly; maybe it would be okay!

The third monarch surprised me by crossing the wire to the opposite side of the box, before climbing to the edge and flying off!

By Sunday night, it was evident that the last chrysalis would be emerging the next day, so I fashioned a new box in case I had to take it to my work meeting.  

The next morning, I loaded my car with work necessities first, then came back inside to check on the chrysalis one more time before moving the box to my car.  It was already emerging!  Luckily, my husband had taken the day off from work, and he took over the duty of watching it and moving the box outside.

Everything seemed to go smoothly, until it left the box.  That's when my husband noticed it wasn't flying well.

Closer inspection revealed that the left wings weren't working together.  The incomplete chrysalis must have caused the problem.

We left the butterfly to flutter outside, moving it every so often to a stable resting place.  By dusk, it was gone.  I'd like to think it made it's way to the tree and climbed up...

Five out of six chrysalises fully formed and flew away; not bad for a first time butterfly breeder!

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