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Beautiful monarch butterfly

The first of the season to eclose!

She started as an egg laid by her mother on one of our potted narrow-leaf milkweed plants.

She then ate and ate and ate the leaves until, within a couple of weeks, she grew to a plump, large caterpillar.

Then she suddenly disappeared, looking for a good place to weave her silk pad and morph into a pupa.

That's when we noticed her in "j" form, attached high up to the side of one of our garden sheds.

Within twenty four hours the caterpillar was a pupa or chrysalis.

I worried about the chrysalis because around this time was when our weather changed, and we experienced unseasonable rainstorms for a week.

The silk they spin to form their anchor pads must be extremely durable.

These are raindrops after one of the storms, sliding down and off the chrysalis.

After three weeks, the last week of May, I noticed the chrysalis turning black.

I knew this meant that, if all went well, a butterfly would eclose within twenty-four hours.

You can see through the chrysalis case the distinctive orange color of the wings .

When the chrysalis looks very dark, and it seems as if the exterior is made of waxed paper, starting to crack, it could be a matter of hours or minutes before the butterfly emerges.

Here is the empty chrysalis, and below it, squirted on the shed, is the metabolic waste material left over from metamorphosis. Butterflies expel this liquid from their abdomens after they emerge from the chrysalis.

We saw the lovely monarch roosting on the branch of a shrub directly at the base of the shed.

It was quite windy and cool, so this was a good place for the monarch to dry out her wings.

She remained there overnight.

The next day, in the afternoon when the sun shone and temperatures rose to the mid-sixties, the monarch could warm her wings while resting on plants on the patio.

And then she suddenly took flight, soaring high above the roof.

She was gone.

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