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Newly emerged monarch in the garden

Timing is everything!

Three weeks ago the last monarch caterpillar on our native milkweed grew large and plump and disappeared to find a site to form its chrysalis. I hoped all went well, and looked in the usual area where other monarch caterpillars tend to form their chrysalis on plants, on the garden shed, or elsewhere in the same vicinity. I saw no chrysalis.

A few days ago in the afternoon I stood on the patio next to the garden beds, watering a few of the thirsty plants.

From the corner of my eye I spotted sudden movement a few feet away from me.

It was a monarch. But it wasn't sipping nectar from flowers, just rested on a branch of the Chiapas sage shrub.

At first I thought something was odd about the monarch.

Then it hit me. This monarch must have just eclosed.

Sure enough, the empty chrysalis was on a lower branch of the shrub.

The monarch probably eclosed a few hours earlier and had dried its wings before climbing to a higher branch to continue to dry and pump blood through its wings.

You can see the empty chrysalis in the photo, just below the leaf under the monarch.

A few hours after I took these photos, the monarch suddenly flapped its wings and flew up into the warm air, landing first on the top of our next door neighbors' bamboo plant, then off to its adventures.

I calculated that the monarch caterpillar, instead of crawling a few feet in another direction where there is some tall grass and other shrubs, crawled about 10 feet over concrete tiles, then up the 2 foot brick wall of the lower garden bed, into the soil and up the Chiapas salvia shrub.

And I didn't notice its chrysalis although I water the Chiapas salvia and other plants in the garden beds once or twice weekly.

This is one tough butterfly!

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