And now for the continuation of last week's post on raising butterflies...
When last we saw our intrepid metamorphosing insects, they were hanging out in the laundry room, green chrysalises sporting beautiful gold metallic dots and lines.
One of the smallest chrysalises began to darken, and turned a solid black hue by last Thursday. Reading up on the care of butterflies, it seemed I may have lost this one. Saddened, I went to work, and came home to this:
Still thinking the caterpillar hadn't made it, I thought the chrysalis had simply burst, and the brown spot below it was goo from the remains....Until a shout came from my husband Saturday morning. "Butterfly in the dining room!"
Between the two of us, we rescued it from our carpet and got it outside--our first queen!
It fluttered about near the ground, and wouldn't fly; it kept nosediving into the grass, despite attempts to move it upright on sturdier ground. I worried it had been damaged in its escape from the net-covered box in laundry room. Later, my husband felt bad for the poor thing, and decided to move it to the flower bed as a final resting place. In his hand, it walked to the tip of his fingers, and flew to the tree!
Meanwhile, my teenager, husband, and I witnessed the eclosing of the second chrysalis--a monarch!--standing in awe over the box on the washing machine. (Pardon the color; I took the picture through red netting.)
It wasn't long before a third butterfly, another queen, emerged! In between "hatchings", I watched a video from a research center and learned that the brown "goo" was actually meconium, the remains of the fluid the butterflies pump into the veins on their wings to unfurl and strengthen them.
Not wanting a replay of our "firstborn", I carried the box outside and watched over the monarch and queen as they hung out, drying and strengthening their wings for flight. It was exciting when they finally started flapping, first slowly, then faster, letting go of their husks. A tilt of the box to help them climb to the edge, and they were off!
Three new butterflies to brighten the world! I'll cover the last three butterflies in the next blog post.