On July the 24th, 2018 my husband found this monarch butterfly caterpillar on the leaf of a milkweed plant at Three Tree Creek. We had a small plastic cage with us
for just the possibility that we might be lucky enough to come across one sometime
. When we got the caterpillar home we put it in a larger cage along with some free milkweed leaves.
The cage seemed quite roomy and adequate for such a little creature and we had used this cage before in 2014 and we had watched the
process of metamorphosis occur, so we were satisfied with its accommodation!
The next day, July 25th, we again added fresh milkweed leaves to the cage and as it turns out it was lucky that we did! This little caterpillar had a voracious appetite! By late afternoon I noticed that it had eaten an entire leaf!
so I added another fresh leaf and it had eaten about half of the leaf (you can see the half eaten leaf under the caterpillar!) Interesting that I hadn't observed such a huge appetite previous years when we had also kept a caterpillar.
The next morning (July 26th) I was away until noon and when I returned home I noticed that the caterpillar appeared to be unusually active! It was rather quickly moving around the inside perimeter of the cage. From my previous experience I knew that the time would come when the caterpillar would climb to the top of the cage and ready itself for the next stage by spinning some silk to attach itself to the top of the cage. I anticipated that perhaps it was about time for this to happen, so I placed a small stick inside the cage to allow the caterpillar to climb to the top via the stick and when I checked the caterpillar again, it was laying flat against the top of the cage. Aha! I kept checking for any change before we went to bed for the night.
July 27, I checked early this morning and it was as I had assumed it would be, the caterpillar had attached itself to the top of the cage and it was hanging downward in a "J" shape. It had now entered the pupa stage!
It was difficult to get a good photo in such a small area, but look carefully and you can see the "J" shaped caterpillar.
Things have been moving very quickly today and at about 3:30 p.m. I looked again and the caterpillar had shed its skin and was now covered with a green shiny, silken looking covering, its chrysalis.
In about 10 days time an adult Monarch butterfly will emerge and then we will return it to a milkweed patch and set it free, wishing it well on its journey to Mexico this fall and winter!
What an amazing caterpillar this is... so programmed and filled with such intuition and knowledge that it is able to turn itself into a most beautiful and amazing adult Monarch butterfly.
I am linking today to Eileen's Saturday Critters which can be found at viewingnaturewitheileen.blogspot.ca