Where’s the Monarch Butterfly?

I missed the awakening.

Every day from when the monarch caterpillar morphed into a chrysalis, I watched the wall on the side of my house.

Caterpillar to Chrysalis, August 12, 2020 (Use slide to view)

Starting on August 12, I learned the completed metamorphosis would occur anywhere from 9-to-14 days from that moment. (August 20 to August 26).

Four days later, the outline of the wing could be seen through the chrysalis.

Close up of chrysalis.
Chrysalis on August 16, 20020

Two days after that, the chrysalis looked as though it was shrinking because the indentation on the left seemed more pronounced.

Chrysalis hanging on the side of a house.
Chrysalis August 18, 2020

But for days thereafter, the chrysalis seemed to just hang there; we could discern no further changes. Talk in my house revolved around the question: Can monarchs fail to emerge from the chrysalis? And you all know me, regular readers, that question led to a search.

Monarchs have a lot of foes, human and otherwise. The good news for our visitor–we don’t spray chemicals in our yard. So there was hope.

At 6 am Monday morning (yesterday), the dog and I went out for his morning constitution. I checked the wall. The chrysalis was still there. The caterpillar in the process of change was still within the 9-14 day window. It had until August 26, 2020 to reveal itself.

By noon, here’s what remained.

Empty chrysalis.
The remains of the metamorphosis

I walked around the yard in hopes of seeing the monarch butterfly. A black swallowtail flew by, as did two cabbage moths; but no Monarch.

While my chapter of this tale is over, my visitor has left behind many unanswered questions. The first: Why is the chrysalis green during metamorphosis but is now an opaque brown and brittle, like cellophane? And wow, the remains were stuck to the house like they had been nailed there!

Empty chrysalis.
Chrysalis remains

And the Monarch? It’s time to migrate to Mexico. And remember the post about tagging Monarchs for science? Here’s a study released on August 7, 2020. What needs to be done to foster these creatures? We have to plant buffets for the pollinators.

 . . . increasing milkweed habitat, which has the potential of increasing the summer monarch population, is the conservation measure that will have the greatest impact.


I’ll remind you all come spring to plant milkweed!

P.S. Why was this glorious creature named the Monarch butterfly? Apparently it dates back to 1885 and an English king.

. . . one theory it was so called in honor of King William III of England, who also was Prince of Orange, in reference to the butterfly’s color. An older name is milkweed-butterfly (1871). Other old names for it were danais and archippus.


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