Monarchs, Week Three: Butterflies!

According to the internets, the process of a monarch from egg to butterfly usually takes about a month. But it has been unpleasantly hot for most of this summer and it only took 21 days.

The big change this week was buying a second habitat and separating the caterpillars from the ready to hatch chrysalises. This was important for 2 reasons. The first is that the milkweed is in large glass bottles filled with water on a mesh floor. I did not think I would be able to carry all that outdoors to let the hatched butterflies free without making a giant mess. The second is that monarchs can have parasites (luckily none of mine have, but I need to be safe) and the easiest way for them to spread is for an infected butterfly to hatch over caterpillars who have not yet formed their chrysalises.

To pick up a butterfly, the easiest way is to just put your finger in front of it and tap its chest very lightly; they just climb up on you. From my observations, the male butterflies are more sedate and the females are more eager to get going. Two of the butterflies let me pick them up and move them – both were males.

I am very excited to be able to release these butterflies into the world; hopefully they will make the journey to their winter home in Mexico safely.

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