For the past 4 years we have done a yearly science project each July/August. We have raised monarchs. A friend of ours, who is lovingly nicknamed, Mother Nature, got us enamored with these beautiful butterflies. Once we got involved, we couldn't stop! So, each year the boys roam our fields, their Great Grandma's pond, and their Grandpa's fields looking for Monarch caterpillars. Last year we had a bumper crop of 42. This year we are having a slower start. We have found about 16. But, we aren't finished yet!
Here is one of the caterpillars. He is getting fat and sassy so soon he will crawl off to find a place to attach himself to. Usually they choose my ivy, but this year they seem to like another one of my plants. I'm not sure what it is called but, I think it is in the Wandering Jew plant family.
Once they find an acceptable place they secrete a white substance called a silk pad, that helps attach them to that spot. Then they let go and hang in this "J" formation. They hang this way for about a day.
Next, the caterpillar forms its chrysalis. If you look really hard sometimes you can find the skin that the caterpillar shed as it made its new home. These chrysalis' are a beautiful light green with gold dots
After about 10 days the chrysalis changes colors. Before long it is black. When you look closely you can see the orange and black colors of the butterfly's wings.
Finally, the butterfly emerges. If your lucky you can catch them just as they are coming out. When they first come out their wings are all wet and crumpled. But not for long. Because God has equipped them with a special trick. They pump fluid from their bodies into their wings which helps to straighten them out. Once their wings have unfolded they hang like the butterfly in the picture below. Slowly flapping their wings, so that they will dry. If you look to the right of the butterfly you can see the empty chrysalis hanging on the ivy branch.
Finally, we let them go. I like to place them on a flower in my garden and then watch them take flight up into the big blue sky!