Thursday, May 26, 2016

Royalty Is Back In The Garden

A year and a half back I wrote about finding Monarch Butterfly caterpillars in my garden. They were chowing down on Asclepias physocarpa, a milkweed that's native to South Africa and that thrives on neglect in my garden. The butterflies returned last fall and laid eggs on the milkweed so I got to watch the munching caterpillars once more. I was disappointed though because I never managed to find any chrysalises.

Monarch Caterpillar

The Monarch caterpillars are back this spring, which is a first, in the past I've only found them in the fall. Another first was finding a chrysalis!

April 9

I watched this one for weeks. It didn't seem to change one bit. And then finally...

May 4
One morning I noticed the dark stripes on the wings were starting to show through the skin of the chrysalis. I kept checking all day long and nothing happened.

May 5
The next day the chrysalis was even darker. I kept watching but still no action and then I had to leave for the afternoon and when I came home I found an empty chrysalis. Oh bummer!

But wait, I found another chrysalis! And the watching and waiting resumed. The day before yesterday it looked like the chrysalis was darkening. Yesterday morning it was definite. This time I was determined to catch some action, if not in person then at least some photos. My little point and shoot camera has a time lapse function so I set it up on a tripod aimed at the chrysalis and set it to snap once every minute. And I didn't have to go anywhere yesterday so I kept checking...

8:42 AM

11:42 AM

2:19 PM
Oh lucky me, I checked just as the chrysalis was starting to split open. I dashed to get my phone so I could take a video and the camera kept snapping.

2:20 PM
If I can learn how to edit the crappy video that I took I could show the butterfly actually emerging, but photos will have to do for now.

2:21 PM

2:24 PM

5:41 PM

Bon Voyage Beautiful!


  1. I just read this article, and thought it was appropriate to post here about tropical milkweed.

  2. Thanks for the link, it's very interesting and informative and I hope that any of my readers who have tropical milkweed in their gardens read it and follow the advice. I'm not sure that's it's applicable in my garden, the milkweed I'm growing dies back here in the winter, but I will be extra careful to be sure that there aren't any plants lingering on in the "off" season. I don't think it's out of the ordinary to see the Monarchs here in spring and fall, we are on the migratory path to overwintering sites that are not far from here, but I'll look into that further. Actually, I've been meaning to get native milkweeds into my garden ever since I've been seeing Monarchs in the garden, now I'm even more motivated.

  3. What a fun thing to be able to witness, your photographs capture it perfectly.

    The only fun things I find in the garden are cicada husks, which are kinda freaky to come upon unexpectedly.

  4. Wow - amazing! Phenomenal job capturing it on film.

  5. Wonderful capture! The more time we spend in the garden, the more likely we are to see great things like this.

  6. Beautiful! Thanks for the photos.

  7. Awesome, awesome, awesome! And now I'm thinking of trading in my camera for one with a time-release feature. Go Monarchs!

  8. Wow! That's really cool! You wouldn't think you could squeeze all that butterfly into that little package.

    Our boy cat has basically the same coloration as Zeke (2nd picture down):

  9. Fascinating! New technology has helped us to learn a lot more about the natural world.

  10. How exciting! We don't see monarchs here until late summer and I've only had a few caterpillars despite having loads of milkweed. Hopefully, this year I'll have more. :o)

  11. What fantastic pics, Michelle - really amazing. I had the opportunity a few years back to watch a butterfly emerge (though not a monarch) - it was something else, for sure. I have milkweed all over my property though rarely check it out for any signs.

  12. Absolutely beautiful! It was my goal to establish a butterfly garden this summer. It's a work in progress so I can't wait to see your photos up close and personal. Thank you!


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