Wednesday, May 27, 2009

12th bug done: A Monarch Emerges...

Today's bug: A monarch emarges from her chrysalis!

Today's bug came from inspiration of how I spent the afternoon. It was my first day as a volunteer at the Butterfly House! When they emerge from the chrysalis, for the first few moments they aren't exactly the beauties we see fluttering around in the summer! I wanted to illustrate that for those who may not have realized what they look like when they first come out.

I did a lot of pollinator/butterfly gardening back in Maryland, and I thought I knew a lot about butterflies and their life cycles. I learned so much today, and I'm sure this summer I will learn a lot more.

At the butterfly house, there is a box of about 200 Chrysalis. Today 4 or 5 opened, but I only got to see one open while I was there. It wasn't quite as dramatic as one would think, as a staff member had to assist it... so I didn't really feel I got to experience the full magical effect. But today was a cold day, barely even 60, which is a very unhealthy temperature for butterflies to decide they want to come into the world. We also had no sun, so after they came out of their chrysalis, there wasn't anywhere for them to warm up.

A few of them didn't make it. They kept falling, failing to cling to anything (which is necessary so that their wings can hang down and unfold) , or they would hang but their wings just wouldn't fill out. Poor butterflies, what should have been a happy and exciting time for all was filled with worry instead.

For most of the afternoon, I checked out the different kinds of chrysalis and which butterflies would be emerging from them. I studied the different stages, and how the youngest were still the bright colors of their caterpillar, and the ones just about to pop open were much darker (in cases of monarchs and black swallowtails).

Photo by MsEli (Eli Griffith) on Flickr.

Here is an example of a monarch very close to emerging from a chrysalis.

A black swallowtail chrysalis, newly formed (it's bright green!).

I learned that Luna Moth cocoons look like a simple rock or old leaf that you would never even see, sitting there on the forest floor. The caterpillar wraps itself up in a leaf, and spins a silken chrysalis inside. So even though butterflies have a chrysalis, and a moth has a cocoon, inside that cocoon is a moth chrysalis. Check them out!


Bellissima said...

Wow - amazing! My fave so far!
Please take a moment to visit - you've won the 'One Lovely Blog' Award! Congratulations - you deserve it!

Doris Sturm said...

That is so interesting. I would have never guessed a luna moths don't I have to read up on them. Such pretty and interesting creatures.

Rhonda said...

Definitely the lady bugs! Love the bright bold colors and child like innocense it brings.