Monday, August 24, 2009

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!


Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Oh WOW,this is so exciting.I had the opportunity to witness this tranformation last year.I was thrilled beyond words when 'my'butterfly emerged.God's creative work!and I got to watch it.WOW!

Too Many Hats said...

Great shots. I think the whole butterfly process is amazing!

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

It is amazing... would you happen to remember the time line of how long between each photo? Or how long from hatching to attaching itself tot he top, and from that point to hatching?

Really fun to follow!
Blessings & aloha!