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The tentative female monarch butterfly

When we released a male monarch butterfly last week, a female had eclosed that morning.

In the afternoon, when it was sunny and warm, it was time to release the male.

Since the female had eclosed three hours previously, we thought maybe she was ready to be released, too.

After we opened the lid of the hamper and the male monarch flitted away, wafting in the breeze up to the top of the blackberry bush, the female seemed somewhat curious.

She tentatively placed both forelegs on the top rim of the hamper.

I let her crawl on my finger and thought she would fly off.

Instead she really liked crawling on my hand and arm.

At one point a gust of wind blew her off my hand and onto the patio, where she moved unsteadily.

We decided that maybe it was just too soon for her to be out on her own.

Even when I tried to set her down back in the hamper she still preferred to walk on my arm.

Eventually we cut a bright yellow zinnia from a plant growing near the patio, and the butterfly immediately hopped on to the flower, to hang from the edge, back in the hamper.

We released her the next day, when she was eager and ready to take on the world.

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