Thursday, July 29, 2010

Monarch Happy Dance

Losing one form to gain another.... the Monarch "happy dance"
(Press the arrow to play slideshow)

"Know thyself! A maxim as pernicious as it is ugly. Whoever obsessively observes himself arrests his own development. A caterpillar who wanted to know itself well would never become a butterfly." ~ Andre Gide
Part One: When What To My Wondering Eyes Did Appear

Six Monarch caterpillars out of fifteen were saved. They ate and ate and ate the milkweed leaves offered and just when I thought they would devour all the milkweed I had planted, they stopped. As with the swallowtail, they wandered around the mesh enclosure and chose a place to rest. Five chose the same general area, which made for quite the show... one caterpillar touching another already attached at the hind end and all the squirming and bumping; one could only think of a couple of young siblings and the typical... "You touched me! Did not! Did too! Don't touch me! Mommmmm!"

Finally, all six were in their J-shaped hanging stance ... and one by one the fun began. The antennae were the first to change, taking on a jagged zig-zag appearance as the caterpillar seemed to stretch long and straight for one last time. Very suddenly, the skin along the head simply split and the wriggling back and forth began in earnest. Side to side, the "happy dance" continued as the skin slipped slowly up, crinkling to a small mass up at the attached hind end. With one last circular pump, it falls and an emerald green chrysalis remains. The show is not over for the chrysalis still moves and starts to shorten and smooth as the attachment becomes thicker and darker in color. The initial shedding of skin takes only a couple of minutes, but the maturing takes several hours. And then, there is motionless rest... an acorn shaped smooth emerald with tiny dots of gold... yes, metallic dots of gold adorn these jewels.

And once again.... we wait.

(end of post)


Kathy Seay said...

I see you don't have any comments so far, so I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy the posts about the butterflies and how they transform from caterpillars.  I'm on the look out for some Tropical Milkweed.  I suspect I will have to order some seeds.  I have a page bookmarked which has several varieties of Tropical Milkweed, so if I can't find the plants around here I'm going to order for next year.

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