I cannot believe this is my first time witnessing this! Watching a monarch butterfly go from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly has to be one of the most enchanting, most mesmerizing things I’ve ever seen. How did I survive 43 years without being remotely aware this was happening?
This is one of the things I love about gardening. My personal gardening journey has not just been about growing food but all the things I learn along the way. In this case, reading about organic pest control options led me to learn more about the disappearing monarch population, which is generally considered to be a result of chemical weed control which either kills milkweed, the caterpillars’ only food source, or leaves it coated in poison, killing the caterpillars as they eat. Not cool.
I decided to try and help the migrating monarchs by planting untreated milkweed from the local organic nursery and I was pleasantly surprised. For one, milkweed is prettier than it sounds and two, the plants already had monarch eggs on them! Within a week I had an abundance of caterpillars. And aphids. Oh well, at least I knew my plants were free of chemicals.
Anyway, I blabbed about caterpillars in last week’s post and although it’s weird to keep bringing insects to a party, I thought you all might enjoy seeing how the drama unfolded (literally, haha). And so here it is, my offering for Fiesta Friday 22 ~
Open Scene, my kitchen window, 9 a.m.:
Last night the chrysalis had turned very dark. This morning I could see why – there’s a butterfly in there! Can you see the spots and colors? Those are butterfly wings! I am trying SO HARD to resist using the word amazeballs right now.
Now see the edge where the ‘gold leaf’ was crossing the chrysalis and how it has started to separate? I figured that had to be a sign it could hatch at any moment. I was determined not to miss the split second when the exoskeleton popped open and the butterfly emerged, but if course I looked away for ONE MILLISECOND and suddenly it was done! Poof!
Jon and I spent the next hour watching it spin itself to dry its wings. Instinct in action is a pretty cool thing to witness:
Eventually after lots of spinning it started stretching its new wings. It detached itself gingerly from its spent chrysalis and held on to the cheesecloth while it continued to stretch.
The gorgeous creature flew off almost immediately and found a nice spot to hang out while it continued to gather strength. We spent a while just chillin’ together contemplating the wonder of nature. Well, I think that’s what it was doing. I know I was.
At the suggestion of my friend Robin’s adorably kooky daughter Bella, the butterfly has been christened Sarah Cookie Baker (should that be hyphenated?). She must have known I was bringing her to a party attended by loads of talented pastry chefs!
I hope you all have enjoyed watching this process with me, a process I honestly would never have believed if I hadn’t seen it myself. Please tune in tomorrow – I have a sneaking suspicion that Sarah’s brother Pete Pie Maker will be joining us.
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