From pupa to butterfly

Today, our monarch emerged from his chrysalis, 11 days after he pupated (and yes, it is a he, I learned in the meantime how to distinguish males from females as pupae and adults).

For the longest time, the chrysalis looked pretty much unchanged on the outside. It remained bright green with its lovely golden spots. The amazing transformation that was going on inside was very well hidden. After a week, one can see the developing antennae and the proboscis on the belly of the chrysalis. On the side, there are some veins that look like the veins on the adult wings. However, even 10 days after the monarch had pupated, there was still no hint of the color that the adult would finally take on. This is, in the morning of the 10th day, the chrysalis was still green. In the evening, some hints of orange and black were shining through.

The chrysalis formed on September 22nd (see previous post). From the outside, it did not change much for many days. On the belly side (top row right two and bottom row left two photos), one can see the developing antennae, proboscis and legs. Here was the only place, where any other color besides green was showing. Then, between morning and evening of October 2nd, the marking of the adult inside of the chrysalis began to appear. I assume that the pigments were made earlier, but they were hidden inside of the chrysalis to keep it well camouflaged until the night before it was ready to hatch.

And then, on the next morning at 7:00 am, the chrysalis was all orange and black and the pattern on the butterfly wings inside were clearly visible. One hour later, the butterfly was out. Like the formation of the pupa, the hatching of an adult monarch takes only a few minutes. This time, I missed it (rats!) although I checked on him again and again. One moment, he was still a pupa, a little later, he was hanging down from the transparent shell of his chrysalis and had already unpacked his wings.

Here he is, a perfect, beautiful adult monarch, drying off his wings moments after he hatched.

I will keep him safely at home for one more day so that he can harden out completely. If he gets hungry, he has some honey water to drink. Tomorrow, he’ll be send out into the world and off on his voyage to Mexico.