Our milkweed tree has been put throught he ringer the past few weeks with the monarch caterpilars. Of course we would not have it any other way. The skies around the yard have been a flutter with MONARCH BUTTERFLIES for the past week as chrysalis after chrysalis produce adult butterflies. The life cycle of a monarch includes a change of form called complete metamorphosis and it goes through four radically different stages:
-The eggs are laid by the females during spring and summer breeding months.
-The eggs hatch, revealing worm-like larva, the caterpillars. The caterpillars consume their egg cases, then feed on milkweed, and sequester substances called cardenolides, a type of cardiac glycosides. During the caterpillar stage, Monarchs store energy in the form of fat and nutrients to carry them through the non-feeding pupa stage.
-In the pupa or chrysalis stage, the caterpillar spins a silk pad on a twig, leaf, etc. and hangs from this pad by its last pair of prolegs. It hangs upside down in the shape of a 'J', and then molts, leaving itself encased in an articulated green exoskeleton. At this point, hormonal changes occur, leading to the development of a butterfly.
-The mature butterfly emerges after about two weeks and feeds on a variety of flowers, including milkweed flowers, red clover, and goldenrod.
The brood... large and small.
Monarch caterpillar beginning pupation by hanging in a "J" position.
A chrysalis on our cocohead.
Chrysalis details. How about that metallic gold detailing?
What's up with that? Amazing.
After emerging from chrysalis.
The male butterfly has 2 black spots on it's lower set of wings.
The female has thicker veins and no spots on the lower wings.
Another view of the female.