September 13, 2009

It's a Girl... Monarch Butterfly!

It was an exciting thing when one of the Monarch caterpillars moved from the asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) over to a large container planted with purple fountain grass, lantana, Persian shield and ageratum. I first noticed the "J" shape (that indicates the cat is ready to form the chrysalis) on August 30.

The next morning the cat was still a "J" but by afternoon of August 31, the chrysalis was formed.

This morning, I went out for my morning walk/run and noticed that the chrysalis was changing. I could see the design of the Monarch. By the time I finished my walk, this little girl had emerged!

It took exactly two weeks from the formation of the chrysalis to today's eclose. Our Monarch took a few hours to dry her wings and flap them to get some strength. She then moved onto the lantana blooms for nectar. This afternoon, she was flitting about the garden to feed on buddleia, marigolds, zinnias, agastache and salvias.

What a thrill to watch the metamorphosis! I'll be on the lookout for the other six caterpillars that fed on the milkweed. I should see more of the Monarch butterflies later this week. I think my garden has definitely earned the Monarch Waystation certification!

For more information on providing a habitat for Monarchs, visit Monarch Watch.

Photos and words by Freda Cameron; Location: home garden; August/September 2009
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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