September 30, 2014

A Monarch is Born




Yesterday, I was in the garden digging up the dried corn stalks when I spotted a Monarch butterfly chrysalis hanging from one of the corn leaves. It was quite a surprise to find it so late in the season and hanging from a vegetable. Two years ago, I found one on a swiss chard stalk that I was about to cook. They are so beautiful with their necklace and spots of gold on a celadon ground.




By this morning the chrysalis had turned black and I could clearly see the wing. The day was cool and gray, so I wondered if the butterfly would emerge.




By later in the afternoon the weather had warmed and there was some sun through high clouds, so I felt sure I would see the butterfly today. This photo was taken at 2:39 PM.




You can see the chrysalis hanging from the leaf on the right. I did chores out in the garden so I could keep an eye on it. Nothing seemed to be happening at 4:10 PM so I went into the house for a few minutes.




Oh! I wish I had not: when I returned I could see from a distance that the butterfly had emerged. I took this photo at 4:26 PM. The same thing happened to me two years ago: I waited and waited, went into the house, and when I returned a few minutes later, there was the butterfly and its now empty chrysalis. They seem to be shy about sharing their emergence. The wings are crumpled, not surprising seeing how small the container was for the body and wings of this large butterfly.




By 4:35 the wings were already smoothed. The butterfly was busy seemingly cleaning its face and testing its proboscis.




It was moving toward evening and cooling off. At 4:43 the Monarch was slightly opening its wings. An hour later I did not see it spread its wings. Because of the cool early evening, I wonder if it will wait until morning to do so. I was so happy to have found the Monarch chrysalis before dumping the corn stalk on the compost pile, so happy to know it had a successful birth; now I wish this beautiful endangered creature a safe journey south.


10 comments:

  1. Entralling to witness such a birth! Thank you for documenting it, and enlightening those of us who have never even seen a monarch chrysalis, not to mention a newly emerged butterfly! This was fascinating!

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  2. Hurray, I was hoping you would get to catch this wonder! It's a female - you can tell by the heavy black markings on the veins of the hindwing. Vermont monarchs do sometimes get to Mexico -- tagged ones have been found there. Bon Voyage!

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  3. I feel very lucky to have witnessed this. I thought it might be a female because the chrysalis was small, only about 3/4 inch. I do hope she makes it to Mexico.

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  4. Thank you so much for this birth!!

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  5. Wow, what a wonderful document.

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  6. Something I have never managed to see despite years and years in the garden in autumn. Thank you for sharing your photos!! :)

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  7. Marvelous!! Now I am more motivated to clean up my own garden too! Thank you.

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  8. Fantastic -- thanks for sharing this sequence -- as viewers we are also lucky, once removed. (I can't believe you didn't tag it for eventual sighting in Mexico.)
    Stuart

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  9. Thanks, all, for the great comments; I'm so pleased that you enjoyed this post. By mid-day today the butterfly had taken wing.

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