This month it seems that we all need some lightness . . . so I’m going with my butterflies. I have milkweed growing near my house. A few years ago I noticed several Monarch caterpillars on the leaves (Monarch caterpillars eat only milkweed) and I decided to watch them develop. The next day when I went out to see them, there were only two left . . . the birds must have gotten them. I decided to take the remaining two to the safety of my house. In a tall clear container I put a cut stem of milkweed in a cup of water—it became their nursery. Each time they had eaten most of the leaves I replaced them and I watched them grow fat. To my delight within the month I had hatched and released two butterflies.
This year my daughter, Lisa, sent me a butterfly cage—who knew there was such a thing? Amazon has everything. I was lucky enough to find 8 caterpillars (one didn’t make it). I charted their time between my finding each, and their chrysalis formation.
It varied from 7 to 10 days (didn’t know how old each was when found). Their chrysalises are beautiful—pale green dotted with gold beads. They emerge in from 10 to 14 days. They then need at least 2 hours for their wings to completely dry.
After a week from the first chrysalis, each morning I awoke to check the butterfly cage. On two successive mornings there were butterflies and the others emerged throughout successive days. I allowed them the almost two hours to dry and on nice days they rode on my finger to the flowers.
The two that emerged at night, having more than two hours to dry, were anxious and flew off as soon as they got outside.
It was a delightful and rewarding experience. I plan to do the same each future summer.
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