Friday, September 20, 2013

Witness to a Miracle

 It began with a tiny little egg in my garden.

Tiny Egg on Milkweed

A sweet discovery I've been waiting my whole life  to see.

Others have witnessed this from beginning to end...
but not me, 
not from an egg 
discovered in my very own garden.

1.2 mm high and 0.9 mm wide

 See the tiny vertical ridges?

There is only one thing 
in all the world this could be...

Five Days Later

and it is just beginning to hatch.
What could be inside?

1/8 of an inch long

Welcome to our world little guy. 

All he thinks about is eating...
first he'll eat his egg shell
and then he'll eat the milkweed 
he lives on.

1/4 inch long

This tiny little caterpillar 
is very hungry. 

He has doubled in size in just one day.

You might too 
if all you did was eat.

Day Four

 You should know that milkweed is the only food 
this caterpillar will eat.

Milkweed has a nasty toxin in it
that makes the caterpillar taste nasty. 

Birds don't like the taste 
so they choose not to eat the caterpillars.

Mother Nature's way of protecting them. 

Caterpillar Changing his Clothes

As the caterpillar grows bigger, 
he simply undresses.

He wiggles out of his skin 
to a find a larger size just waiting for him.
And if he keeps on eating
 he'll soon grow out of that as well.

And he will... keep on eating.

It's a Fine Life

As he eats, 
he grows bigger and bigger each day.

Hungry, hungry caterpillar.

Fat Little Caterpillar

He will actually shed his skin FIVE times 
in the next two weeks
as he grows to be two inches long.

About this time,
 something deep inside whispers...
it's time.

Hanging Out in J Position

So he scurries to find a place to hang... 
upside down!

Quickly he begins spinning silk threads 
to make a tiny button 
to attach himself securely.

He looks like the letter J as he lifts his head.

Shedding his Skin

 And then something quite remarkable 
begins to happen.


 The caterpillar completely 
undresses again...
shedding his skin for the last time.

 This time he looks very different.

Almost a Chrysalis

He continues to change 
right before your very eyes.

He is becoming...

Chrysalis One Inch Long

   a beautiful Chrysalis...
with golden jewels to adorn.

 Surely a miracle.

♦ ♦ ♦

Now... something quite wonderful is happening 
inside this tiny Chrysalis.
What will happen next?

Patience, my dear friends...
next post!

*It's been several weeks since I last posted here and about that long since I've had time to visit blogging friends. Thank you to those who have sent notes asking if I was ok... I am.  Life is good. Very good. My last little fledgling (# 8 of 8) just flew from our nest. I guess that makes us empty nesters. (Still trying to wrap my mind around that title.) I've known this stage of life was coming... just never took time to embrace the idea of it as it approached. Funny how life has a way of sneaking up on you. I've been blessed to be a stay at home mom for 37 years... so an empty nest is a major change in my life. Thankfully, I will forever be a mother, it is my greatest joy, but with the nest now empty, I can focus in a new direction. Still pondering... so many ideas... what to do, what to do.

The miracle in this post began as we were in transition, boxing up my daughter's life to move to college... a vacation to celebrate her... helping her move into her first apartment four hours away. Many thanks to a couple of my kids who dropped in while we were gone to get fresh leaves for the caterpillars. (We actually had two.) Yes, my kids know their mother is a bit crazy. Really, who asks their children to babysit their caterpillars? Timed it just right, butterflies emerged a few days after we arrived home. Missed taking pics of every moment. Added some to this post from several years ago when my sweet son in law brought home caterpillars for me to raise. Love that boy. You can read more about that adventure under the Butterfly label on the side bar.

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


  1. What a beautiful post! My husband and I became 'empty nesters' this year, too. It's weird but I'm enjoying the quiet and know that both of my kids are happy where they are.

  2. Nice! What a wonderful, hopeful post--about monarchs and about life. I'm a recent empty-nester, too. But as you know, the kids come back. Transitions are hard, but it's wonderful to see the kids become independent, thoughtful adults, isn't it?!

  3. Incredible photography-national geographic quality. thank you for sharing

  4. I have enjoyed all of your posts, but this one is the best so far. The children at Frankford Friends School (we are in Philadelphia and yes, it is a Quaker school, Nursery through 8th grade) have been raising monarchs this year. I am eager to share this with them to complement their own observations and records. Thanks!

    1. You make me smile... so glad you came and I'm thrilled that you want to share this with your school children.

  5. Oh Carolyn! What an amazing post! I've never seen this process before in the detail you shared... I can't thank you enough! It sounds like you have a wonderful family and have truly been blessed! I'm glad, you are a good and kind soul and you deserve every positive that comes your way:D
    Hugs my sweet blogging sister,
    Beth P

    1. Thank you Beth. I feel very blessed... in sooo many ways.
      Hugs right back to you!

  6. Amazing post! Thanks you so much for sharing this interesting transformation!

  7. glad it's all good news, from caterpillars to kids.

  8. How special to have this lovely. I had one monarch this year due to the extreme weather...perhaps the critters will help with the empty nest.

    1. This was a banner year... we saw five monarchs this year... after none last year and one the year before.

  9. Carolyne, glad you are OK now, the life is kind, it's true. I love your pictures, what patience you have had to taking them at every moment of caterpillar changes!

    1. Thank you, Nadezda. Life really is good for me... not grumbling a bit, just regrouping. So glad you enjoy my images.

  10. This is an amazing photo essay! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you Donna, I 've missed visiting you... here I come!

  11. Oh how exciting for you Carolyn and your photographs are such a great documentary of events so far. I once found some eggs and managed to photograph the caterpillars but then a storm came and a tree fell on top of the area and when it was cleared they had cleared the wild garlic plants that the caterpillars had been feeding on. Every year I still look for those eggs - one year I'll find more I'm sure :) I've had to go the same 'empty nester' feeling as you as we had another one fledge too though one is still at home.

    1. I've been checking those milkweeds every summer forever... you can imagine my delight at actually finding eggs. Hug your last "little one" every day... it will be all too soon before he flies as well. But really, isn't that what we really want?

  12. Good to see you back, and glad to hear that you are well. It's a beautiful miracle that you were fortunate to witness going on in your garden.


  13. I have always dreamed of finding a monarch chrysalis in my garden, but even with my milkweed plants, I've never found one. Good luck with your finally empty nest, it's a curse and a blessing all at once.

    1. That has been my dream for so long... never give up, dreams do come true.

  14. Fantastic series of photos! I doubt I would have recognized the egg for what it was. Congratulations, and I look forward to seeing the emerging butterfly!

    1. Thank you, Deb. I've been looking for so long, At first I thought it too good to be true,

  15. Congratulations! Its so amazing that you manage to document the whole metamorphosis. I just can't wait for the sequel and the finale.

  16. This is such a wonderful series of photographs. What a find in your own garden!

  17. Such a beautiful post, Carolyn. I'm so glad I got to see your photos. I tried this myself this summer...found 5 monarch cats on the milkweed. Unfortunately they didn't make it...something got them and they all died in the caterpillar phase. I remain hopeful I'll be able to witness the process eventually. I've been married nearly 37 years but still have a 16 yr old at home. Not sure how I'll cope when he eventually leaves. Know it will be difficult, but their independence is what we hope for all along.


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