Monarch Butterfly ~ The Burnt-Orange & Black Beauty of the Butterfly Kingdom

Which came first, the butterfly or the egg? I guess that's one question about the monarch butterfly that'll never morph from theory to butterfly fact. Thankfully, there are plenty of other interesting tidbits of monarch intelligence that aren't up for debate.

This wondrous creature is said to symbolize God-harmony, healing, truth and science. The mere sight of the brilliant orange butterfly fills many with a sense of happiness and peace. For me, it represents change and rebirth...a 30-day metamorphosis from tiny egg to stately butterfly is nothing short of miraculous!

monarch butterfly on yellow yarrow

Science's less user-friendly name for the monarch is Danaus plexippus. The adult represents the fourth and final stage of development in the
butterfly life cycle.

At this point you will finally be able to tell whether a monarch is a mature majestic male or a full-grown fantastic female. The only way you can tell the sex of a caterpillar is through dissection...Ouch!

Before adulthood, the monarch butterfly will go through three other stages of metamorphosis starting with
the egg stage.

monarch caterpillar on a green background

The second stage of transformation features the monarch caterpillar. During this stage the larva is constantly feasting on his/her preferred brand of caterpillar food (and will settle for nothing less!) Check out some of my caterpillar photos to see this clown-colored caterpillar in action.
Green Monarch Chrysalis hanging under pot

Next, the caterpillar will morph into an emerald green chrysalis where the most astonishing changes will occur before a brand new butterfly emerges two weeks later.

This metamorphosis occurs 5 times over each spring/summer with the fifth generation embarking on a distant migration that, for some, will cover thousands of miles!

If you want to witness this transformation first hand, raising monarch butterflies is a truly amazing long as you avoid these monarch killing pitfalls!

If you have problems locating your own eggs, or would like to raise them from caterpillar or chrysalis stage, monarch butterfly kits are a great option.

Most people release their butterflies a few hours after hatching. Sometimes, people who rear monarch butterflies want to keep them, but keep in mind that monarchs have a short life span, and little time to reproduce.

Other options besides setting them free include commercial opportunities such as selling them for releases, or framing them in displays.

Framing might seem like a cruel option, but when you're aware of the short monarch lifespan it doesn't sound quite as some.

Check out my
original butterfly photos to see the perfectly formed Danaus plexippus adult.

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