Last year Adi had the pleasure of keeping a monarch caterpillar for about 2 days. I was afraid that we would somehow mismanage it so I made her let it go and we never saw it again. Then my friend Sacha told me about how her girls had raised a caterpillar to a chrysalis and then to a butterfly. How cool! If Sacha and her kiddos could do it, we could too :)
So when we found our first monarch caterpillar on the wild milkweed growing in our garden we were quick to take it in. His name was Caterpillery.
The photo below shows three others (George, the big one, Pinky and Linky). Can you see all three? They're in a diagonal line.
After we had Caterpillary for about a week or so and he got nice and fat he attached his butt to the bug hut that had become his home and made himself a chrysalis. I had never seen one up close before, it's stunning. There are little gold specks along the rim at the top and two sets of three along the bottom. It looks like real gold, and is so spectacular! I read online that the metamorphosis usually takes about 14 days. Caterpillary, however, is a rock star caterpillar that had lots of love and made the change in just 9 days ;)It took some time for his (or her?) wings to dry and get strong enough to fly. We had a test run outside but it didn't take long to see that he just wasn't ready yet so we kept him indoors for about 8 more hours so he could gain strength safely.
Here he is checking out a flower from our garden. We released him in the garden when he was finally ready but he immediately flew high up into the walnut tree above. We didn't see where he went from there. I was pleasantly surprised that Adi was perfectly content to let Caterpillary fly free.This has been one of the most rewarding, mysterious, exciting, awe inspiring "science experiments" we've ever done. I feel so blessed to even have the chance to see these changes, and we have several more hungry caterpillars munching on fresh milkweed every day. Currently, George is in his chrysalis and Pinky just made hers this morning. Linky isn't far behind and we have another nearly ready as well. And two nameless babies we just brought in over the weekend. I'm going to have to find a place to harvest milkweed to feed all of our little monarch critters. And I'll do it with pleasure!