Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Video of a Monarch Emerging...

I have always been enchanted 
with the magic and beauty 
of the life cycle of a Monarch Butterfly. 

This Summer we have had the most extraordinary opportunity 
of tending and watching up close 
the miracle of these beautiful little creatures 
on their journey to becoming a Butterfly. 

We have raised 8 tiny caterpillars gathered from a field  
not far from my gardens. 

We've watched with sweet anticipation as their amazing life cycle
 has unfolded before our very eyes...

Each stage, from a tiny little egg, to an always hungry caterpillar, to a mysterious Chrysalis and finally, a beautiful Butterfly, are miracles that truly testify of a Divine Creator. 

It has been a tender mercy , especially for me, to witness these tiny miracles, 
a sweet diversion from the trials that life so often presents.

Together, our family's lives have been greatly enriched through our discoveries. 

While I have enjoyed each stage of their precious life, 
I must admit that their transformation to a butterfly 
is the most magical to me.

Watch as My Butterfly Dreams come true...
(please note that I have sped up the action a bit.)

And actually, I do have one more post to share 
before I'm done with Butterflies... 
next week.

If you missed any of my post from Butterfly Dreams, 
you may view them here:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Butterfly Dreams Part 5... A Monarch is Born!

 Undeniably a Miracle... how else can this be explained?

 A Monarch Butterfly, 
just seconds old.

As soon as he breaks free...

 he begins to stretch and expand. 

A Royal Monarch, indeed.
See his stunning cloak?

  How did he ever fit inside that tiny Chrysalis!

 Watch, as second by second, his wings grow longer...

and his body lengthens.

This all happens rather quickly, 
within about a minute...

Through a series of contortions this just a few seconds ago 
chubby body becomes long and lean.

  He will hang in upright position

 until he is ready to test drive his new wings.

And then he will take flight...

The final post in this series of Butterfly Dreams will be posted Saturday.

You will be amazed.  

I sure was.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Butterfly Dreams Part 4... Change from Within

With the caterpillars transformed into Chrysalis, we wait...

Chrysalis formed on leaf of Milkweed

and wait...

Chrysalis moved to safety

and wait.

Tied with thread to top of Butterfly Castle
Everyday we watch for signs of change.

And then it begins...
Can you see the change?
The Chrysalis begins to blacken.

8-12 days will have elapsed since the caterpillar became a Chrysalis. Each of our Chrysalis have entered this stage in the late afternoon or evening. 

 As it blackens, the Chrysalis appears to become translucent 
and we can see what's slowly happening inside. 

When morning comes, we can clearly see the wings of the butterfly 
through the Chrysalis...

and the body on the opposite side from the wings.

 Soon the butterfly inside will begin to expand 
and at that very moment... 

the Chrysalis will begin to split vertically up the center.

This all happens within a matter of seconds...
 and then the beautiful Monarch Butterfly will emerge.

If you blink...
you will miss it.

Come watch this miracle unfold on our next post.
It truly is amazing!

If you've missed the other post in this series, here are the links:

Friday, September 9, 2011

Butterfly Dreams Part Three... Chrysalis!

Changes are happening rather quickly in our Butterfly Dreams!
 Our caterpillars are transforming into Chrysalis.

Monarch Caterpillars in the wild will move away from their food source to begin this transformation into a Chrysalis. Even though we provided sticks for our caterpillars to climb on, several chose to spin their little white button of silk to the underside of a leaf. 
Not a good idea.

There are five more hungry caterpillars
who may realize this leaf will make a tasty meal.

But at this stage of the transformation, it's too late to encourage the little guy to go elsewhere. If we wait patiently for a few days, it will be easy and safe to move him. 

So we wait.

After about twelve hours,
something magical began to happen to our upside down caterpillar...

Quite suddenly, 
his skin split open!

And look at what's inside!

We watched with amazement
as the change took place.

 The Chrysalis began to shift from side to side...

 wiggle and waggle

 back and forth,

  back and forth...

until everything feels just right,

 all comfy and cozy. 

This all happens within a minute or two.

Then slowly, if you have the patience to watch, 
more subtle changes take place until all appears to be still.

At least on the outside.

On the inside another miracle is taking place 
and the transformation will be complete in 8-12 days.

But wait!
Our first Chrysalis is still in a dangerous place.

Can you see the danger?
Already those leaves are beginning to disappear.

And that isn't all the danger.
After a couple of days, the leaf is beginning to dry. The branch this leaf is on is in a vase of water and after three days must be discarded and replaced with a fresh branch of milkweed.

Not good for a Chrysalis that needs peace and quiet for 8-12 days.

It's time for rescue intervention... 

We left the new chrysalis undisturbed for 2-3 days, then we carefully tied a piece of thread to the black stem of the Chrysalis and cut it away from the leaf it was attached to. 
Then we tied the thread to the stick.  
This was an easy solution... 
this Chrysalis is safe.  

And now we wait for the butterfly to emerge.
Sweet Dreams little Butterfly!
We'll see you in our NEXT post!

If you'd like, you may read part one

and part two  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Butterfly Dreams Part Two... Caterpillars!

A Monarch Butterfly graciously danced through my gardens.

 Read more about that sweet experience here.

Wouldn't you think that our next discovery might be butterfly eggs?


We've checked the leaves everyday for weeks for this part of my dream to come true. But it hasn't... perhaps that's a dream for another time.   

But in the meanwhile, with a little help from my kids...

We have caterpillars!

Little did I know that my daughter and her sweet husband have been searching the fields to find monarch caterpillars for me. One day they surprised me with a little box that they were quite anxious for me to open.

And what do you think was inside?

 Tiny little caterpillars 
as hungry as can be!

They were barely a quarter inch long and were skinnier than the thinnest spaghetti noodle. 
Every day they got bigger

and bigger.

They chomped away all day on the milkweed leaves that my kids gathered from the horse pasture a long walk from our gardens.

Sometimes I would cut a branch or two for them
from the milkweeds 
Mother Nature had planted in my garden. 

(But not too many, because I'm still wishing for eggs to be laid.)

 Oh my, they are hungry little creatures!

They grow so fast that they don't fit into their skin any more.

So they wiggle out of their old skin into a fresh new one!
(Notice the old discarded frock.)

They shed their skin 4 times as a caterpillar.

And each time they grow bigger.

 They seem to enjoy crawling through the stems and leaves.

 And we've enjoyed watching them.  

 One night we noticed the biggest caterpillar had stopped eating.

It was time for a change.

 Upside down in a J-position means it will soon turn into a Chrysalis.

This caterpillar has chosen a very dangerous spot to become a Chrysalis.
It's not the place we hoped he would choose.

There are five more very hungry caterpillars who just may eat the leaf he is hanging from.

There must be something we can do 
so he can safely become a Chrysalis.

See how we come to the rescue 
then watch the transformation into a Chrysalis take place on the next post.

Oh we're having such fun!  

Thanks for joining us!