Monday, August 24, 2009

Monarch Butterflies Part II

Here they are! The pictures of the emergence of our first butterfly. I am so glad that I took it to the dentist's office. Wouldn't you know right there in the waiting room it decided to come out. Coolest thing I have ever seen. When the dentist came out from taking care of the boys, he found me on the floor in his waiting room taking pictures. I was too excited to be embarrassed. (Old one wasn't, he was very embarrassed by my crazy behavior. He couldn't believe I was taking the 'gross things' into the waiting room).

If you have seen this before, how lucky for you! It really is an amazing transformation. I know it's just a bug - but wow! How intricate and detailed and ... I just don't know what to say it was so cool.

I recently read that when the caterpillar changes into the chrysalis, it becomes liquid inside. How amazing to see the transformation to solid again and even the colors emerging thru the shell.

At about 1015 it began to break free

The head comes out first

Then the wings

I love this picture of the proboscis. To think that two straws come together as one to create the 'mouth/nose' with which our butterfly will drink nectar. You can actually see the split in this photo.

It hangs on with its legs as the thorax drops.

Sorry some of these are blurry. We learn as we go. First off, sitting on the floor in the dentist office is not the best place to be taking pictures - although he has a great floor to ceiling window which provided some good light as I hate to use the flash.

Secondly I have come to learn that after I get my camera repaired (oh such a long sad story! I never change CF card, but when we had a tournament this summer I bought a 4GB to make sure I would have enough space without having to run home and get them off the camera. The first time I took the card out, I couldn't get the other card in. I knew better than to force it so I put the other one back in, but it was going in really tight. I ended up taking it to the camera store where they told me I have a bent pin. It will be $200-300 to fix. So I put the card back in, (the guy told me not too, but I had to try.... I have been shooting on grace these last few months. Never taking out the card!)

Anyway - I am sorry I digress. Once I get that fixed, my next lens needs to be a macro. I love up close photography of tiny things and want to get better at it. So I guess that is the direction I will need to go in. Then ... perhaps I will start to think about lighting issues.

Back to the butterfly, doesn't she have tiny wings? There are actually 4 wings.

Ok, I missed quite a few shots in between here. We left the dentists office and since I was already out, I needed to stop at the dollar store for some plastic table cloths for my bulletin boards at school. (Much cheaper than paper and since I don't get any money from my building for that, well I have to find it as cheap as I can. ) Oh sorry I went off on a tangent again!

Anyway while I was in the Dollar Store, she just hung there and let her wings dry out. As they dried they got longer. They also began to leak this orange liquid. Yeah kind of gross, but I wanted to share it with you too.

Finally we got home and thought it was time to take her out of the box. Young One volunteered to hold her for some more photos.

I read today that Monarchs are actually poisonous. You see they only eat milkweed when they are in the caterpillar stage, which is poisonous as well. They store it in them somehow as they transform and then use it as a protection of sorts. If a bird takes a bite of them, the bird gets very sick and will never do that again (so I have read).

Yeah he got tired of that fast. Kind of a weird feeling as they have a tiny claw on the feet that hold on to you. I guess they are called a tarsus, and it has a tiny organ on it that lets them taste the nectar.

We put her on an echinacea (pink/purple coneflower) flower. Mine are almost all past their prime, I wasn't sure I would be able to find one that was suitable, but we did, and she hung out there quite a while.

It must have been quite a site for my neighbors to see me sitting in my flower bed in my lawn chair, waiting and taking pictures, but I didn't care. What I won't do for the sake of a picture.
(Well if you know me there are lots of things I won't do - so let's just leave it there.)

The proboscis is so cool!

Yeah, here you can see my flowers are really waning .....

Meanwhile the wings continue to dry and get longer. I actually went in and did my 2 miles on the treadmill. I came out and she was still there.

Finally we saw the wings open up. If you notice, I have been calling this butterfly a her. You can tell the difference between butterflies by the round black dots that the males have on the bottom (hind) wings. If you look at the adult butterfly in my header there are not dots so she is a female. Comparing this picture to that one - the hind wings are not yet fully out, but I think there is enough to see that there are no black dots.

A few hours later she flew off the flower and up into the pine tree in our front yard. I had to go to school for a while and work in my classroom, and when I got home she was gone.

Well I had a real lot of fun watching this process and learning about butterflies. If you have never done this with your kids, it is something they should all experience. So very amazing, but then we have an amazing God who has created all of these intricacies in our lives for us to enjoy and learn about. If you want to see all the pictures I took of the butterfly process, you can find them on flickr:

You might want to check out my different flower series or nature shots

Thanks for sharing this with me. I hope you liked the pictures.

Monarch Butterflies PART I

I guess it is just that time of year. Several of my favorite bloggers have been posting about the stages in a butterfly's life. As a teacher, I know the students in my school (my 3 boys included) have all studied and watched the metamorphosis from egg to butterfly. Personally, I've never witnessed the process until now.

The photo at the top of my blog:

is what hooked me on photography. I shot it with my little Kodak Digital easy share z650, but was so fascinated when I loaded them to the computer and found the pairing of the butterfly and the bee. I took that on July 11, 2006. I was hooked. And so began the addiction of having to top that picture and always strive to get something better.

I am very eclectic in the things I photograph. the smallest of bugs, to the widest expanse of the
sky, Young One playing sports alone in the yard, with Dad or with his team, places we go, things we do, everything I look at seems to become a vision of a photograph to me. Just a crazy example ... Saturday I had to work the snack stand for our football league and all these cute little 3 and 4 year olds come up looking at the candy, and rest their little faces on their arms on the counter and stare up with huge eyes. Boy, I wished I had my camera with me then. (see ... I am addicted!)

Anyway, I friend of mine and her daughter have raised butterflies from eggs, as a homeschooling project. They go out and find the eggs (or caterpillars) transfer them to containers in the house, feed them milkweed and watch the process. She thought I might be interested to photograph every step ... how could I refuse.

So they brought over about 4 eggs, with some leaves, gave me lots of information, and the journey began. So here are the eggs:

Below you can see that one of them hatched(?) and a tiny catterpillar is foraging for food.

For such a small critter, I am amazed at how many leaves they eat. But they don't stay small for long. They get big very fast!

Two of the 4 eggs turned into caterpillars, and only one of those survived. Eventually after eating their fill, the caterpillar crawls to the top of the box and starts spewing forth this white yarny looking stuff.

Eventually they attach themselves to the top and form a little 'J'

The next part scared me. They start to lose the yellow stripes and then they shed the black antenae, feet and stripes. When I first saw it I thought it had lost its head! But then very quickly they start to puff out and wiggle into this bright green with yellow striped shiny mass, which, from the bottom up becomes covered by the chrysalis.

Eventually all remnants of the caterpillar are gone and just the chrysalis is there. It becomes a light jade green color with gold spots on it. You can see the indentation of the wings to be thru the skin of the chrysalis.

For about 10 days the chrysalis hangs. (Remember I had only one, but my friend brought me a box of 6 more to watch! Thanks Stephanie!) So now I have 7 chrysalises (I looked it up in the dictionary for the proper plural form - just in case you were wondering).

After about 10 days it starts to get dark as in the photo below. You can begin to see the orange forming on the wings.

This morning when I got up 1 of them is just about black. On closer inspection I see it is almost ready to open.

And so although my boys have a dental appointment, I am not going to miss this moment in time. I am taking the box and my camera to the dentist office and I will be ready when the moment occurs. Don't worry I will share it with you thru pictures and words of course so ....
stay tuned .........

PS - sorry for some of the blurry shots. One of the things I have learned thru this project is that my next lens is going to be a macro. If you have suggestions (for canon) I love to hear them. Thanks!