BY SUZANNE WILLIAMS
Each spring my garden is covered in Monarch butterfly caterpillars. They come because of the milkweed plants that are so prevalent there. After gorging themselves on the leaves, which is their sole source of food, these fat little "worms" crawl off to find a place to "hang". Once a location is selected, the caterpillars cannot be moved. In fact, if you try to detach them, they will most likely return to that same location.
The caterpillar will suspend itself into the shape of the letter "j" to prepare for creating its chrysalis. It takes less than 24 hours for the caterpillar to form the chrysalis. Eventually, the head of the caterpillar falls off, and a bright, green chrysalis appears.
The chrysalis remains green until the morning the butterfly is to emerge. At that point, it becomes completely clear, and you can observe the butterfly folded inside. This happens within about a week's span.
Eventually, the new butterfly begins to pump its wings open-closed, open-closed. This helps to finish the drying process and also strengthens their wings. Then as the temperature of the day starts to rise, the butterfly flies away!
You can watch a newly emerged Monarch as it dries its wings in the video below.
*All of these images were taken with my Nikon d5000, including the video.
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.