Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Witness to a Miracle... Becoming a BUTTERFLY

Nature is alive with bounteous miracles...

and if we allow ourselves time to slow our pace,
we just may be invited to witness something quite extraordinary...
right in our own back yard. 

Something magical 
is happening inside this beautiful Chrysalis...
 and the opaque outer shell
 gives us a window 
to the amazing miracle taking place within.

Over the course of ten days
the chrysalis slowly begins to darken.

Soon orange and black colors become visible 
with the tell tale markings of wings.
At any moment the miracle will be complete.

With no apparent warning, 
the chrysalis quite suddenly splits open.

See... it's happening now!

Within seconds a new living creature 

is born!

The wings are crumpled and wet
and the butterfly immediately begins to
unfold it's wings.

The enlarged abdomen gently pulsates  
distributing life-giving fluid 
into the tiny veins of the wings...

allowing them to grow quickly and harden 
so the butterfly may fly.

The abdomen will contract 
 and become long and slender
as the wings elongate.

Within an hour of emerging 
from the chrysalis,
our Monarch butterfly's wings  
are full grown and dry.

The entire life cycle 
complete in four to six weeks.

And now he's ready to fly!

Several weeks ago I discovered a dozen or so Monarch Eggs scattered among the common milkweed that Mother Nature planted in a corner of my gardens three years ago. In all my many days of searching... these are the first eggs I have ever encountered. This milkweed is indeed a weed... and as weeds tend to do, it's taking over a beautiful flower bed. I don't like milkweed. But I do love Monarch Butterflies... and since milkweed is the only plant a monarch will lay her eggs on, I've let the milkweed stay.  Finding those eggs was truly a magical moment for me. You can read more about the eggs to journey to a Chrysalis HERE. Knowing that Monarchs are endangered, I brought two of the eggs inside to nurture. I longed to bring in more, but with a long awaited vacation on the horizon... I knew two was all I could care for. I have a Butterfly Castle... somewhat similar to a laundry hamper but with a zippered door. It was the perfect little palace to watch our royal miracle unfold. So glad I brought those two inside. None of the others survived.

We let our butterfly linger inside 
for just a day or two...

Fresh flowers to sip nectar from 
will give him much needed energy.

When we're sure his probiscus (tongue) 
is working well...

it's time to say farewell.

During the morning hours
  after the sun has warmed the earth a bit,
is the perfect time.

My daughter gently cupped him in her hands
and carried him outside to the gardens.

She placed him amidst the blooms
then carefully lifted her hands. 

I have learned that if we choose a shady spot
our chance of capturing images before he takes off is much better. 
But not always... sometimes they are eager to be free.

This one chose to linger.

But as soon as the sunshine hit his wings he began to quiver...
almost like he was revving up his motor...
and then, quite suddenly,
 he was off!

He quickly discovered 
the 'Miss Molly' Buddleia blooms 
in our Hummingbird/Butterfly Garden.

And after sipping the tasty nectar 
for just a minute or two...

... he flew quietly from my life.

Safe travels dear little one... have a beautiful life.

All content created by Carolyn Bush | Copyright © 2010 - 2013 
All Rights Reserved | This Grandmother's Garden
Highland, Utah, USA


  1. A beautiful post about one of the many miracles that happen daily and are often unnoticed. Your images and words are gorgeous! Thank you for this special post!

    1. So glad you enjoyed this... I so enjoyed living the experience and then reliving it again as I wrote the post.

  2. Oh Carolyn, I got goosebumps reading that and seeing your wonderful images! I do so love to witness the transformation of chrysalis to butterfly, but I have to ask why the ones in the wild did not survive?

    1. I can only guess... I discovered small holes on each of the leaves where there had been eggs, so I know they hatched. Presumably the holes were from the tiny caterpillars chomping away. Since there was no major damage on the leaves, (caterpillars would have consumed many large leaves as they matured,) I know the caterpillars were probably a meal themselves to some predator, maybe a garden snake? .

  3. Oh my, that was so perfectly done, Carolyn. I don't think I've ever seen a post that documented this miracle better. It gave me the shivers, too. You certainly did your part!

  4. Fantastic progression photos. You really caught some great ones. I'd leave milkweed in my gardens too if I thought I'd have such luck.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

    1. In all honesty... I was about to give up on the whole idea of mamma butterflies ever leaving eggs here... it's such a rare occurrence to even see a monarch in our gardens. We've lived here for ten years... one monarch three years ago, none last year and FIVE this year. In light of the fact that in many places throughout the world they are in grave decline, that is quite encouraging, don't you think?

  5. Très intéressant cet article. J'ai beaucoup apprécié voir le développement de ce papillon. Bonne fin de journée.

    1. "Very interesting article. I enjoyed seeing the development of this butterfly. Good day."

      Thank you! I enjoyed writing and photographing this post.

  6. Oh Carolyn! What a precious gift you have given us and the world! I am so proud of you for taking care of those two butterflies... It has a much stronger importance to me at the moment... as I am experiencing such a huge loss at my house!
    Hugs my sweet friend,
    Beth P

  7. Wonderful, Carolyn. A new life born on our eyes! How patient you are taken these pictures. Great!

  8. Greetings from Japan! Very good photo rendition of the birth of the butterfly... you are right about making these little, little discoveries right at our gardens... and thank you for visiting my blog...

  9. I've never seen photos of chrysalises like that. Well done.

  10. Just marvelous...I have not found any eggs this year as we had so much rain, but those migrating are finding my garden this week...about a dozen so far that we are feeding with wonderful natives: helianthus, aster and phlox....they seem to linger all day just sucking every flower dry...I just sit and watch them float about the garden.

  11. That pictures are beautiful. Lovely to see butterflies


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