Butterfly heaven

monarch birth 26 August 2012
monarch birth 26 August 2012

Today my sister’s grandchildren came calling my name, “Aunt Mary Ellen come quick. The butterfly is born.” I could hardly believe it was the  same monarch that was in a chrysalis this past week because it was too early in its development at this stage. Rather it turned out to be another monarch birth.

It took a child with eyes close to the ground to spot the newly emerged butterfly, which was resting on a blade of grass, after it emerged from a clear, see through chrysalis. Welcome to the world dear monarca. The caterpillar created a chrysalis right on a container pot. No one even suspected that there was a chrysalis there.

The other chrysalis we are watching is about ready to emerge. The wings are becoming more visible through the chrysalis as the hours pass by. It should prove interesting tomorrow. Here’s a shot of today’s chrysalis.

monarch chrysalis 26 August 2012

Butterfly Corner

Black swallowtail butterfly copyright Erin Pryor Pavlica
Black swallowtail butterfly copyright Erin Pryor Pavlica

January 3, 2012 – I received an email asking for help. A black swallowtail butterfly was born in a home in Saint Paul, MN. I could hardly believe it.  How was this possible? Erin Pryor Pavlica needed to know what nectar sources to offer the butterfly. The butterfly formed a chrysalis in November and Erin brought it inside. The butterfly emerged on January 3. Normally butterflies don’t need nectar for 24-48 hours after they emerge. I suggested she try sweet fruit such as an orange and sugar water. Butterflies taste with their feet. The next day, Erin reported that the butterfly did not taste the orange. She was going to try sugar water next.

Erin posted her story on Facebook. Many people around the country answered with suggestions and some had tried similar nectar for butterflies born out of season in their own homes. All agreed that it would be impossible to move the butterfly. There is an average of 560 species of swallowtails. Many are brilliant and live in the tropics. The Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake is home to the yellow Canadian Tiger swallowtail in season. Normally the butterfly overwinters outside in the pupal stage. Some swallowtails may spend more than a year like this. I imagine that the home, being heated, was too warm and triggered a different response. Perhaps this is why the butterfly emerged in winter. Surely the butterfly was out of its natural life cycle and habitat.

The black swallowtail is thriving. The butterfly has enjoyed sipping from a rotten old apple and an aged squashed banana. On Saturday, Erin said, “Yes, I have several cotton pads with sugar solution soaked into them. I put fresh solution out several times a day. The butterfly is usually active after eating!”

I would like to mention that Erin had a baby girl, Quinn Mae, on New Year’s Eve. She is thrilled that the black swallowtail butterfly arrived within days of the child’s birth. I invited the family to visit Shell Lake next summer. I look forward to celebrating the butterfly baby at the Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden. Quinn Mae won’t be the first butterfly baby to be remembered at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat.

January 24 – Environmental Film Fest, 12 Noon, Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Ojibwa Community College, 13466 W Trepania Road, Hayward. Film: WATERBUSTER. The film is about the effects of the Gannon Dam on the Missouri River and how a family, which is one of the WATERBUSTER clan, was torn apart and their journey back to wholeness again. Susan Menzel, Tribal collage intern, stated she watched the film and drew parallels about Lac Courte Oreilles history. There was a time when the tribe was flooded to create the Chippewa Flowage in 1924 and the Winter Dam was installed. The Dam was turned over to LCO in the 1970s.  Speaker to be announced.  The event is open to the community.

Monarch Butterfly Chatbook – Wings in Chrysalis

MONARCH WINGS IN A CHRYSALIS

As the butterfly develops, the chrysalis changes from a jewel like lime green color to a dark color. At this stage the butterfly is developing inside and wings may be visible to the naked eye. As the butterfly nears emergence, the chrysalis turns transparent.

a bean plant grew in the garden with a hanging chrysalis attached to a leaf. A rabbit had eaten a large portion of the bean leaf. For days on end, I visited the bean plant to see how the chrysalis was doing. It was unnerving to witness the fact that the chrysalis was quite exposed now because of the nibbling.  Fortunately the monarch was about to be born and I was at hand to witness the birth of the monarch butterfly during the first three hours of the butterfly’s life.

Monarch Butterfly Chatbook – Chrysalis

CHRYSALIS – CRISALIDA

 When the outer shell of the pupa hardens it is known as a chrysalis (KRIH-sah-lis). The process of changing is known as metamorphosis (meh-tuh-MOR-fuh-sis). It takes approximately 10 days to two weeks before a butterfly emerges. A monarch butterfly goes through four unique stages in its life: egg, larva, pupa and adult butterfly. The caterpillar inside the chrysalis disintegrates into a green liquid which is mysteriously transformed into a monarch butterfly.

The Chrysalis starts off with a beautiful lime green color shell and has a striking band of gold near the top and three gold specks scattered near the bottom. According to Journey North, “The color itself comes from cardenolides in the milkweed that larvae eat.” What purpose the gold markings have is still unknown.