I've been fretting like a worried parent over the three Monarch Chrysalis' hanging in my back garden since I wrote the last post.
For what seemed like FOREVER, they stayed green....
Although every day, I would swear they were just a little bit darker!
Everything I read about this stage of the metamorphosis process, said the normal time span inside the chrysalis is 9 - 14 days.
Mine stayed suspended there for 25 - 26 days!
Finally they turned clear just when I was starting to think something was wrong.
I don't know if the cooler nighttime temperatures slowed down their transformation or what??
Whatever it was, they were making me very nervous they wouldn't get out before we had a hard freeze or even snow.
Unfortunately, for as much as I watched them, I never actually saw any of the three break out of their chrysalis.
I did catch the first one right after tho ~ notice he's still hanging from it.
If you look closely at the photo above you can see his proboscis is still in half. Stitching the halves together (so he can eat) along with getting their wings positioned correctly before drying are the two most important jobs a newly emerged butterfly HAS to accomplish. Apparently, some butterflies are not able to get the proboscis knitted together. A sad fact I never knew before this year but thankfully not a problem with any of my three.
It's all such a complicated, complex process.
I have a confession about the last butterfly to emerge. I did something I don't normally do especially when it comes to something as delicate as newly emerged butterfly wings. There was risk to the butterfly if everything didn't go right but I couldn't seem to stop myself from interfering. This chrysalis was deep inside the tuteur & covered with vines. In that spot, it wasn't getting any sunshine on it at all. Back in September, when the spot was selected, it was quite warm but now the days can be cool. The day she chose to emerge, the high was 60 degrees and that felt pretty chilly in the shade. Sooooo, right or wrong, I clipped the leaf she was clinging to, after transferring off the chrysalis, and took it to a sunny location.
I didn't touch her, I could see she was completely vulnerable, unable to move her limp wings at all, but she did climb right onto the sunny vines.
I left her drying there for over an hour while she fluttered her wings, stretched them, etc.
btw, this Monarch is a "she" ~ something I now know after learning how to distinguish male from female Monarchs ~ males have a dot on their wings that this one does not. If I can find a photo in my files to show you, I will come back & edit this post so you can see what I mean.
Back to my Monarch, before she was ready to fly away, the setting sun had placed her (and the back garden) in shade once again.
One more time, I clipped the leaf and transported her around to the front garden where she would be in sunlight for what remained of the day.
This time, I very gently placed the leaf next to a bloom on Buddleia 'Honeycomb' and she promptly transferred over and started to feed.
I do not recommend this amount of involvement but for some reason, it seemed like she needed a little "help?" I don't know why I thought that or if I was reading too much into her being in the shade or not?
Anyway, I stayed outside, observing her quietly until dusk fell and she flew up into my neighbors Ash tree. That is where I thought our paths were done intersecting.
However, the next day, I had a beautiful encounter with a Monarch that I really believe was the same one. My daughter & I had just gone outside to enjoy the warm afternoon when a Monarch appeared (from almost nowhere) and flew around my head (and only my head) about four or five times before flying off. I couldn't help but feel she had been waiting to say "thank you" or "good bye?" Is that crazy??
Anyway, it was quite a month going thru the experience with them and after the constant trips out to "check" on them, it feels like something is strangely missing now that they're gone. I hope they all three make it to Mexico safely.
Meanwhile, I have Milkweed seeds floating everywhere around the garden. I'm letting them go....
Hoping for more experiences next year.
By the way, I was able to share the chrysalis' with my book club. I hosted this month & all three were still in the garden on the evening we met. An added bonus/side attraction!
It's up to the hostess to decide what they serve ~ I chose a Yogurt Bar & Caramel Apple Sangria.
I even put dry ice between the black cauldron & Sangria container.
A fun effect!
The hit of the night had to be the syringes of Strawberry Jello Shots tho!
Now that both of these events are over, we are back to just enjoying an extremely nice, mild Fall.
I hope it lasts another couple weeks!!!!
p.s. If you are interested, you can follow the Monarch Migration on this map. I joined and recorded the Monarchs from my garden, which looks like are among the last ones to migrate.