Tuesday, August 26, 2008

An Empty Cocoon and a New Butterfly

When I had returned to the location where I have been watching for the Monarch Butteryfly to finalize the chrysalis stage of its development I found an empty cocoon. Four hours earlier I had seen a Monarch butterfly folded up within it.
However a quick glance showed me the adult Monarch Butterfly that had emerged was close by, hanging upside down under a Milkweed leaf. The butterfly was now going through the stage when its wings would dry and stiffen as hemolymph, an insect blood like substance, is pumped through its veins allowing the butterfly to
fill out its shape.
This stage took quite a while. I must have arrived very soon after the Monarch had completed its pupa stage. I had taken my first photo of it at 12:56 pm and at 2:11, when I had taken my last photo, the butterfly had opened its wings several times but it still was clinging to the Milkweed leaf.Although it had opened and closed its wings several times, as if experimenting, the butterfly did not leave them open but always returned to the closed wing position.
This was a wonderful adventure to have followed; from finding the beautiful jade green cocoon of the pupa, the chrysalis developmental stage of this female Monarch butterfly, to finally getting to see it as an adult. I did not see its total transition, missing the part when it had emerged and unfolded its wings, but I am satisfied with what I was able to observe.
I had stayed by the roadside, sitting in my, car for a little over two hours while I watched this beautiful, brand new creature gain control over its wings. It was still there, clinging to the Milkweed leaf when I left to return home.


kjpweb said...

Gorgeous! A brand new model - probably still has that "New Butterfly" Smell! ;)
Cheers, Klaus

Becky and Gary said...

What a wonderful experience, and you have captured it beautifully! I can only hope the one I have will go as smoothly. I have been doing some reading and discovered that sometimes a wasp will lay eggs on the Monarch caterpillar, and the results will be a wasp emerging in place of the butterfly. Lets hope NOT !
Thanks so much for sharing this creation with us.

Rambling Woods said...

Oh..what an experience. I would love to be able to find a monarch and watch it's progress. Funny that I do did a post on monarchs...

dolittle's daughter said...

Wow, that is all pretty amazing! The butterfly in the see-through cocoon is an awesome shot.

Kingsdowner said...

Congratulations, you must be very proud!
When I read that ou were to return fromn time to time I assumed that you would just find the empty cocoon, but no!
And the photos of the increasingly transparent cocoon wall are fascinating.

Mojo said...

That's a truly astonishing series! Well played indeed!

Someone else posted a piece on the Monarch today... I saw it just this morning.

- Mojo

Deborah Godin said...

Wonderful photos of the newborn to share with all of us out here in the "waiting room!"

me ann my camera said...

It sure was bright and shiny with its beautiful colours still drying!

I will be looking forward to the development results of yours.

rambling woods (Michelle):
It was quite exciting and I had started to doubt my being able to be get my timing right, but it worked out.

dolittle etc:
I thought you would like these, daughter, and don't you just love the transparent one!

Sometimes I doubted my luck of seeing it through, but visiting the site, about 5 km away, twice a day at morning and late afternoon allowed me to moniter it quite well. I was lucky!! And I love the transparency that developed.

Everyone seems to love Monarchs, metamorphosis is so dramatic!

I had a few thoughts along the maternity theme as well while waiting it out in my car watching for its wings to open.

Thank you all for your appreciative comments. This was a fun experience and a wonderful 'hands on' lesson in patience.

Mary said...

That has to be one of the most fantastic things I've ever seen! Wow....how cool that you got to watch this from start to finish! I'm so glad that you didn't miss the new butterfly! I'm also glad that you are such a great photographer and have so much patience to share all of this with us!

me ann my camera said...

What is exciting for me is that so many others appreciate the same kind of beauty that I do. I'm glad you enjoyed as its make the sharing so much more fun for me too.

Texas Travelers said...

These are terrific photos.
Well done,
Troy and Martha

Mare said...

I was mesmerized as your post unfolded! I will never forget the photo where you can see the butterfly inside. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Mo said...

What an amazing process to witness. And lovely photos.

Carletta said...

Thank you so much for sharing this experience with us. Your photos are simple amazing.
VERY well done!

NW Nature Nut said...

It was nice of you to share the butterfly experience with us. I think the whole process is so amazing.Your photos were great.

Leedra said...

Love this post. Few of us get to see this process. Thank you for sharing. The last photo is great. Hard to get the shot of a Monarch with wings spread open good.