great changes

This morning when I checked on the Monarch caterpillars, the first chrysalis was looking very different. Gone was the bright spring green. Now the chrysalis was very transparent and the wings and abdomen of the butterfly could be easily seen (click on image to see larger view). I decided to move the square of screen, with chrysalis attached, to a new location — attached to a nail high up on the wall by the kitchen door.

I had quite a few things on the go around here today, so I didn’t think to check on the chrysalis for a couple of hours this afternoon. When I finally did, it was to discover that I’d missed the big event — the butterfly had already eclosed and was clinging to the screen next to the now empty chrysalis. I left it in place while I went to run a few errands in town. When I returned, it had climbed a little further up the wall and was slowly fanning its wings. As I moved closer to get a better look, the Monarch made its first short flight — and landed on my back and then climbed up my hair until it was perched on my head.

Unfortunately, as I didn’t decide to order Monarch tags until late last week, I couldn’t tag this butterfly. However, I recorded several pieces of information. I measured the wings, which looked to be exactly 50mm in length. As indicated by the chrysalis, the first butterfly was a male. See this web page to read about measuring wings and sexing Monarch butterflies.

After recording the measurements, I took the butterfly outdoors to shoot a few photographs. A couple of minutes later, the butterfly suddenly launched itself into the air and flew to the top of a nearby tree. It certainly was nice to see the first of the caterpillars successfully transformed and on the wing. One down and about 49 more to go.

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10 Responses to “great changes”

  1. Harry Says:

    Those shots of the chrysalis are just fabulous. And that’s one immaculate-looking butterfly.

  2. Wayne Says:

    How amazing. I had no idea the chrysalis would turn transparent before breaking open. Congratulations, Bev!

  3. burning silo Says:

    Harry – Thanks! I always like to think of recently eclosed butterflies and moths as “freshly minted” — and it’s always nice to find one in that condition to photograph.

    Wayne – Aren’t they something else when they turn transparent? It’s very cool to see. I knew that it happened, but I guess what surprised me was that the change from green, to dark, to transparent seemed quite rapid — perhaps about a day or so. I always thought it took three or four days. The nice thing is, now that I know how quickly it happens, I’ll know when to hang the chrysalis in a good spot for the butterfly to eclose.

  4. robin andrea Says:

    Absolutely spectacular, Bev. The butterfly within the chyrsalis is so beautiful, and once emerged he is picture perfect. Fantastic and amazing transition. And, as you say, 49 to go. You are very lucky!

  5. pablo Says:

    This time of emerging and drying of wings must be a perilous period for the poor butterfly. Any likely predator would have a handy meal I’d guess. I’m glad this one had a happy ending.

    These are astonishing photos, but that’s what I’ve come to expect on your site!

  6. Larry Ayers Says:

    Wonderful photos of the transparent chrysalis. This my first visit here but you can be sure I’ll return. It’s always nice to find like-minded people!

  7. burning silo Says:

    Robin – Thanks! He really was picture perfect. I was actually a little surprised by his colour as it was a little different than the usual Monarch one sees. I would say more tangerine than orange. I expect that changes within hours as the wings dry.

    pablo – I’m sure that butterflies must be very vulnerable at first. I would say that this butterfly must have been sitting on the screen for at least 2 hours. Even then, when it flew and landed on me, it was just a short flight and it tried to fly a couple of more times and ended up landing on the floor. I believe you’re right about predators having a handy meal while the butterfly is resting and getting stronger. I’ll bet dragonflies would be especially dangerous. Glad you liked the photos!

    Larry – Thanks, and welcome to my blog. Yes, please do return!

  8. JLLove Says:

    Wonderful images and description. Thanks!

  9. lindaann Says:

    Hi, wonderful site and photos! I have also been photographing the monarch butterfly this year. It has been an amazing experience. Some of my pics can be found here in the butterfly and Wildflower folder:

    I have bookmarked this site and will return often. Thanks for sharing!

  10. burning silo Says:

    lindaann – Great photos on your gallery! Thanks for your comments as well.