Monday, March 12, 2012

Monarch Butterfly Emerges - With Video!

Sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time.  Earlier this month, I was bending over a pot full of milkweed, A. curassavica, where Monarch caterpillars had been feasting.  It was at that sad stage when there were a too few leaves and too many caterpillars.   I was affecting the outcome by moving the largest and healthiest caterpillar on to those remaining leaves.  There was also a chrysalis hanging on a Milkweed stem.   As I  hunched over, waiting for the disturbed caterpillar to relax, uncurl and grab a leaf,  I heard a soft sound near my face.  I turned my head and was looking directly at a Monarch about to emerge from his chrysalis. 

 I have been growing milkweed and observing Monarchs for about three years.  Often I find a recently emerged Monarch, wings like damp tissue paper, clinging to an empty chrysalis.  This was the first time I have actually observed one while it eclosed!  

 It happened fast.   I knew there was no point in running for my camera – the event would be over by the time I got back.  Plus, I still had on my finger a caterpillar which was slowly making its way on to a leaf.  So I relaxed,  widened my eyes, and prepared to absorb the rare experience.

You can Imagine my delight a when,  just a week later,  I spotted another chrysalis opening.   On this lucky morning,  I had my camera in hand!   I squatted, leaning against flower pot and started clicking pictures as fast as auto-focus would let me (which turned out to be about once every five seconds).  I was so tickled with the series of pictures, that I put them together in a Powerpoint presentation and saved it as a Windows Video.  The result is almost but not entirely unlike a video, but still gives you a good look at how a Monarch Butterfly escapes the chrysalis.  As you watch, remember that a few days ago, that elegant, winged animal was a caterpillar.  This is amazing and magical.

Click here (or copy and paste) to watch my YouTube video, "Monarch Butterfly Emerging"