Monarch Butterflies Emerging From Their Chrysalis

Hello and welcome to another adventure in the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly! Last week we looked at how the Monarch caterpillar changes into its chrysalis. Today we’ll see what happens when it’s time for the butterfly to emerge from the chrysalis. (Hang on until the end of this post for the video!) So just to remind you, here’s what the Monarch butterfly’s chrysalis looks like.

When the time for the butterfly to emerge is getting close, the chrysalis will start to turn a darker color and look black. Notice in this picture that one chrysalis looks green but the one in the background is black.

Here is a closer look.

Did you notice that you can see the butterfly’s wing inside the chrysalis? My pictures aren’t super clear because they are taken looking through the plastic container, but here is a picture taken with a flashlight shining on the chrysalis.

Whoa!! How cool is that?! The chrysalis is now very thin and you can see the butterfly! Next, the chrysalis starts to slowly open. Can you see along the left hand side that the chrysalis is splitting open?

Then the split becomes a little wider. The butterfly is hanging upside down right now and you can start to see its head coming out first.

The butterfly is dropping down a little lower now. You can start to see its legs that are folded up close to its head.

It’s now beginning to slide out of the chrysalis!

Sliding farther out…almost there! The chrysalis will stay attached to the top of the container as the butterfly slides down and out of it.

And it’s out! Look how big it’s body looks right now and how small and folded up it’s wings are.

The butterfly grabs a hold of the empty chrysalis and it will hang right side up now.

As the butterfly hangs on the chrysalis, it will pump fluid into its wings and the wings will begin to expand and the body will become smaller. This next picture was taken 5 minutes after the butterfly emerged or eclosed. Its wings are still wrinkled looking.

Then 10 minutes…it’s wings are looking straighter.

And then here is 15 minutes after emerging.

It takes a couple of hours for the butterfly to finish this process and for it’s wings to expand and dry off. They don’t need to eat right away so it’s good to give them time to dry off and to begin to flex their wings. After a few hours have passed, I carefully open the container and put my hand close to the butterfly and they usually climb onto my finger. And then it’s time to set them free outside.

Here is a video I took of the process of the butterfly emerging from it’s chrysalis. It is so amazing to watch this happen!

It has been such a rewarding experience for me to help these beautiful creatures along in their transformation from a tiny little egg into an amazing gorgeous butterfly! This is my second year of raising and releasing Monarchs and I hope I can continue to do so for many years to come! I hope you have enjoyed coming along with me on this journey! 🙂

Tiny Monarch Caterpillars Grow FAST!

Remember these cute TINY little guys we looked at last week? There are 2 on the top left and 1 at the bottom. If you missed that blog post, you can find it here: https://thekidsniche.com/2020/08/21/monarch-caterpillar-babies-are-so-tiny/

You are not going to believe how fast they grow!! Check out this picture that was taken yesterday, August 27, 2020.

Can you say WHOA!! Now they look like fat little sausages! That’s because they eat a LOT of Milkweed leaves! If you find a Monarch caterpillar and you would like to raise it inside your house, just make sure that you have access to lots of Milkweed leaves for them to eat. They will only eat Milkweed leaves.

Would you like to see where we found a bunch of our caterpillars this year? Some were on this Swamp Milkweed plant. Swamp Milkweed plants grow pretty tall and they have pink flowers in the Spring. Can you find 3 caterpillars in this picture?

We found more caterpillars on this Butterfly Milkweed plant. Butterfly Milkweed plants don’t grow as tall as the Swamp Milkweed and they have pretty orange flowers in the Spring. Can you find 3 caterpillars in this picture too? One of them is hiding down low on the right side of the picture. 😉

Sometimes we have found caterpillars on the Common Milkweed plants. This is what it looks like. It’s leaves are much bigger than the other 2 Milkweed plants and it also has pink flowers in the Spring.

When we bring the caterpillars inside our house, they live in a cozy little apartment with a couple of sticks to climb on and Milkweed leaves to eat. We place a damp paper towel on the bottom of the apartment to make it easier to clean up after them every day. They also poop a lot!

We had 4 apartments but we kept finding more caterpillars and eggs so we added more apartments!

We house up to 3 caterpillars in each apartment. They eat and grow and poop to their hearts’ content until one day, it’s time for the next stage in their life cycle. They climb to the top of the apartment or on a stick and then they J-hang. Don’t they look like the letter J hanging there?

Usually about a day after they start to J-hang, they will go into their chrysalis. But that’s a topic for another day! Check back next week when we’ll explore the next phase in their transformation! 🙂

Monarch Caterpillar Babies Are So Tiny!

Hi everyone! Hope you are all doing great! We have hatched some Monarch caterpillars from their eggs for the first time and I just have to show you how cute they are! And TINY! You won’t believe how tiny! On Thursday, August 13th, I found my first ever Monarch Butterfly egg on my milkweed plant. I was so excited! I am trying to do my part in saving the Monarch butterflies, so I brought the egg inside to keep it safe from predators. Do you see the little round ball on this piece of a milkweed leaf? That’s the egg!

The next day I found 2 more eggs and brought them inside. Then on Saturday, August 15th, the first egg hatched! It was really hard for me to even find the tiny tiny little caterpillar. See if you can spot him in this picture. Look on the left side for the caterpillar…and on the right side and bottom for two more eggs.

Can you see him? His head is black and he is green right now, almost the same color as the leaf. The next picture I took was on Sunday, August 16th. What do you see? The caterpillar is already growing bigger and is a little easier to see. See all those teeny tiny little black dots on the white paper towel at the bottom of the picture? Can you guess what that is? It’s teeny tiny caterpillar poop!! Isn’t that funny? 😉

Now let’s look at the picture from two days later, Tuesday, August 18th. I put a dime in the picture so you can compare the caterpillar’s size to the size of the dime. Even though he is growing fast, he still looks very little beside the dime, doesn’t he? See the little hole in the leaf? That’s where he ate part of the leaf.

Guess what else happened on Tuesday? The other two eggs hatched! But wow, I had trouble finding them! See if you can spot one of them in this picture. If you found the “big” tiny caterpillar, then look straight up from him to find the brand new caterpillar.

The next two pictures are from today, Friday, August 21st. The new babies are just 3 days old. Aren’t they so cute?! 🙂

The “big” tiny caterpillar is just over one week old. See if you can find all three caterpillars in this next picture.

It is so fun and so interesting watching these Monarch caterpillars hatch and start to grow. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing just how very very small these caterpillars are when they start out. Stay tuned for more Monarch caterpillar information next week! 🙂

It’s Butterfly Time Again!

It’s that time of year again when you might find those cool looking yellow and black striped Monarch butterfly caterpillars! We found our first one a couple weeks ago.

I brought the caterpillar inside and gave it it’s own cool apartment to live in. I gave it plenty of fresh milkweed leaves to munch on with a few drops of water on them and a stick for climbing to the top of its apartment . Within just a couple of days, it had gone into its chrysalis.

Then the waiting and watching began. Yesterday I noticed that the chrysalis was turning a darker color so I knew that the time for hatching was getting close. This morning when I got up, this is what I saw:

Hello, world! The new Monarch butterfly has arrived! 🙂

This Monarch butterfly is a girl. After giving her a few hours to plump up her wings and dry off, I took her outside. As soon as I walked outside, she started fluttering excitedly around in her apartment! She was ready to go! I took the lid off, let her crawl up onto my finger and she flew off before I could even get her completely out of the apartment. Good bye, beautiful lady! We wish you well! 🙂

The plight of the Monarch butterfly concerns all of us. Their population is really struggling. Their numbers are down 53% over last year for the ones that winter in Mexico. Those that overwintered in California this last year have decreased by 86%! So we need to try and help them as much as we can. Planting native nectar plants such as the common milkweed, swamp milkweed and butterfly milkweed. And avoid using pesticides. Let’s all help preserve these beautiful creatures!

Pollinators Festival

I found the coolest festival not far from us on Saturday! It was called Pollinators Festival and it took place at Gorman Nature Center near Mansfield, Ohio. Our population of pollinators (butterflies, bees, etc) is dwindling and they need us to help provide the kind of environment they require to flourish. Fran LeMasters, The Butterfly Lady, was there with her live butterfly exhibit and it was so awesome to see! You could walk inside the enclosure and see butterflies up close and personal! And even offer them a drink of watermelon juice from the end of a Q-tip.

Here’s a bunch of butterflies hanging out up on the “ceiling”.

And here’s a beautiful large Swallowtail butterfly. (Sorry, but I forget which kind of swallowtail she said it is.)

There were Native Plants for sale…native to Ohio which are the plants our pollinators need. (I limited myself to buying only 8. Haha!) There are plants that are native to each state and you can find the information about your state online. Google is a great place to start looking.

It was a wonderful warm summer day and I enjoyed just walking around looking for pollinators among the flowers that are growing at the center. Can you spot the Tiger Swallowtail butterfly?

The highlight of the festival for me was buying a few Monarch Butterfly chrysalis so we can watch them hatch into a beautiful Monarch Butterflies one day soon!

I’m glad to say they came with instructions!

So the excitement is building! Today the chrysalis looks a little lighter shade of green in some places and I can begin to see the shape of a wing inside.

I will post the progression as the chrysalis changes and the butterfly emerges. If you get the chance to take your kids to a butterfly exhibit, DO IT! I saw a lot of excited kids AND adults enjoying themselves learning about the life cycle of butterflies. I will post more about the Monarch butterfly’s plight soon and will be asking for your help to save them!