For the past 4 years, we have been finding Monarch caterpillars in the wild and raising them. This not only increases their chance of survival, but we get to see their amazing life cycle up close.
This year we found, not one, not 2, but THREE monarch caterpillars! We also found a swallowtail caterpillar, but we will post that process once it emerges (which has no specific time frame…). Now, back to the Monarchs.
Their life cycle starts with a tiny egg on the underside of a milkweed plant. This is the only food they will consume during their entire life. Once it hatches, the bitty, bitty caterpillar will eat its egg and then begin on the leaves. It will continue to grow through 5 ‘instars” (shedding of its skin), the final instar is when it turns into a chrysalis (not a cocoon – those are what moths create). Check out the gold dots on it!! It is AMAZING! From there, we wait about 2 weeks until it emerges. Just before it comes out, the chrysalis turns clear and you see the wings of the butterfly right through it!
The monarch pictured here, is a male (see the black dots on its lower wings). It will be one of millions that migrates all the way down to MEXICO! Hasta luego Señor Mariposa!