Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Friends, The Pupae Of Milwaukee County

My friends, the Friends of the Monarch Trail, asked me to stop by because they had a gift for me. I was finally able to get over there for a few minutes yesterday.

Those dear Ladies of the Monarchs were kind enough to give me what they call a "pupa port." This generosity was truly a gift fit for a king.

What a pupa port is is a basket with a decorative (and most twisting) stick. On said stick were two pupae, or chrysalises. When I received my gift, both pupae were the same light green color. I was told that I could tell when one was about to emerge, the chrysalis would turn a dark color.

By the time I got home from dinner and errands last night, around 9 pm, one had already become noticeably darker:

To give you and idea of how tiny these pupae are, that is my thumb next to them (and no, I do not have a monstrously large thumb):

By about 11 pm, the chrysalis was starting to become transparent. You can see the wings of the future Monarch starting to show through.

Even though I tried to stay up, I couldn't any more and went to bed about 2:30 this morning. Before retiring to my bed, I placed the basket in an old popcorn tin and laid a swatch of light muslin over the top, just in case.

This morning, my wife woke me up at 7 am, and told me to check on the pupae. I gently lifted the muslin and found the Monarch hanging from it. I gently lowered the cloth again and carried the whole thing outside.

Once outside, I again lifted the cloth off the can and let the butterfly climb on my hand. When my wife acted as its roost, I grabbed our camera and got this shot:

We left it outside so that it could sun itself and take off when it was ready. I will admit that I kept a protective eye on my new ward. A little after nine this morning, the butterfly starting to stir more than it had before, slowly batting its wings and waving it antennae. I grabbed the camera, but before I could even turn it on, the little guy (or gal) took off and flew to the east.

Now, one of our "children" has left us forever. And the other pupa seems to be getting a little darker...

They never told me I was going to have to deal with empty nest syndrome.

For more information on the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly, please click here.


  1. A blessed kingdom indeed, one filled with life.

  2. Wow...those are wonderful pictures!
    Super cool! Thanks for sharing this with us! :)

  3. This is why I grow some milkweed in a corner of my yard - food for our monarch's.

    Great pictures.

  4. Of all your posts, I think this is the best. pretty cool.

  5. We got one of these delivered by Monarch friends a few weeks ago too. The kids absolutely loved watching it "hatch". Nice pictures!

  6. One thing to mention to people who wish to enjoy an event like this is not to handle a newly hatched butterfly or moth until it has had time to hang and fully dry and develope its wings. Handling before this is allowed to happen may cause the wings to dry in a "crumpled" or bent manner, which will not allow the butterfly to fly. That said, very cool.

  7. Good point, anony. Thanks for the reminder.