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Whiskey would like to provide an update on the Monarch butterflies growing up outside his window. You may recall Whiskey from his guest post on feline ornithology (corona-style). All year he has carefully observed the adult monarchs fluttering around his flowers, watched the caterpillars nibble away at his milkweed, and closely monitored the transformation of a chrysalis into a new butterfly!

Whiskey saw some of the smallest caterpillars as they hatched outside his window. He sent Jess outside with her macro lens to photograph them. The images don’t do justice to how tiny they were. They weren’t even as wide as Jess’s smallest fingernail. This was taken at 65mm at between 1x and 2x magnification…

Monarch caterpillar
Monarch caterpillar

It doesn’t take long for those tiny caterpillars to grow. One night Whiskey went to bed with a big milkweed full of green leaves, and the next morning he found this:

There were at least 12 Monarch caterpillars crawling at the top of this plant alone!

We relocated some of those caterpillars to a different milkweed plant. A few days later, Whiskey had a new chrysalis to watch. The chrysalis starts out a beautiful pale green color. It blends in very nicely with green leaves, protecting the creature as it transforms from caterpillar to butterfly.

Monarch Chrysalis
Monarch Chrysalis in its early stage – taken 11/23

A few weeks later, the chrysalis looked very different as the butterfly prepared to emerge. We got a last photo on the day that the butterfly emerged.

Monarch Chrysalis - Day of Emergence
Monarch Chrysalis – Day of Emergence 12/13

A few hours later, Whiskey noticed a beautiful new butterfly on the lawn, slowing opening and closing its wings as they hardened. What a cool cycle of life!

This year our annual cross-stitch Christmas ornament features a monarch butterfly. The ornament theme is always related to a significant event of the year. This year we’ll remember being quarantined and passing our days, like Whiskey, watching the world through our virtual window!

2020 Christmas Ornament - "looking out from the panedemic window"
2020 Christmas Ornament – “looking out from the panedemic window”

As crazy as 2020 has been, it’s reminded us of an important lesson: always stop and enjoy the little miracles around us, like the metamorphosis of a butterfly. It’s always good to stop and wave hello to the butterflies!!

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