The Birth of a Butterfly

8 Jul

Hot climates can mean giant flying beetles, but they also often mean giant, beautiful butterflies too! Keen to attract some to our little garden, we tended to our new Milkweed plant – essentially a flowering weed on which Monarch butterflies like to lay their eggs. Its leaves were lush green with small pinky-red flowers, but we’d only once seen a butterfly flutter around. When we came back from Florida however, it was a different story! The plant was now crammed with fat, stripy Monarch caterpillars, happily crawling around, munching any bit of green they could find left on what was quickly becoming a set of twigs stuck in a plant pot.

We checked on our new brood daily. After a few days, the fattest caterpillars began to crawl away from the plant. We watched as one inched his way up to the big hibiscus pot, and stayed there, slowly curling into a J shape. He was getting ready to form his cocoon. Later when we returned, he had disappeared, and in his place was a beautiful jewel-green chrysalis, with a sparkling gold thread sewn through the top.

Just over a week later, the chrysalis was transparent – the squashed-up butterfly visible inside. Over the next two hours we stood patiently in the heat, watching as the butterfly gradually emerged from her cocoon, and slowly stretched her wings, until she was a huge butterfly! With her wings fully-formed, she slipped to the ground, and took a few stumbly flights around the patio, before finally taking off into the distance. It was an incredible thing to witness – from fat caterpillar to stunning butterfly, we’d seen the whole cycle!

Thanks to Rich, we managed to get some shots of her emerging, so I can share the whole cycle with you too!


One Response to “The Birth of a Butterfly”

  1. linda scatliffe 8 July, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    This experience was akin to attending a unique virtual premiere of an incredibly beautiful arty wildlife film altho the fact I wore my nightie all the way thro probably puts me into the worst dressed category on the red carpet!

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