Here are more images of the monarch butterflies we watched develop from caterpillars on our milkweed plant, to chrysalises to adults.
We feel very honored that their mother laid eggs in the backyard on a small narrow leaf milkweed plant purchased from Annies Annuals https://www.anniesannuals.com/
The whole process is fascinating, to watch them morph from one form to another.
And what is so hard to comprehend is how these creatures could develop and emerge from chrysalises just 3/4 of an inch long.
After all, each wing of these butterflies is at least 2 inches wide!
Just imagine all of this folded into a tiny package.
One of the butterflies flew out of the pop-up mesh hamper as soon as we opened the lid to release them, and landed right on the cherry tomato bush (see image above).
There it stayed for about 10 minutes, warming and flexing its wings in the sun.
Until it suddenly flew away, first to the neighbors flowering potato vine along the fence, then their apple tree, and finally out to make its way to its winter home.
Meanwhile, the other butterfly waited about 5 minutes before it decided it was ready to take flight.
It slowly walked up the side of the hamper to the top rim and flew first toward the tomato bush, but then landed on a small loquat tree growing nearby (image below)
It also rested for about 10 minutes, warming and flexing its wings.
It turned out that both butterflies are males.
Note the two black spots, one on either side of its abdomen on the vein of each hind wing.
These are made of specialized scales that produce a chemical during courtship.
Now both are on their way to their winter home, either toward Santa Cruz or north toward Sonoma County.
We are happy that we could help the odds of their survival and development to adults - by 90%! -
simply by protecting them with the soft fabric mesh over the entire milkweed plant, then bringing them indoors to complete their metamorphosis.