Regular readers of the blog may remember Whiskey’s butterfly garden. Throughout the pandemic, Whiskey has kept careful watch at his window, looking out for the Monarch caterpillars on the milkweed below.
In early January I walked outside and gasped with excitement. Our caterpillars were turning into chrysalides, and I finally found where! Tucked into a sheltered cove under the bay window was a line of chrysalides…
There actually weren’t quite that many chrysalides when I first noticed them. So I set up to stalk the remaining caterpillars, hoping to catch their transformations from black-and-yellow caterpillar into green chrysalis. When I spotted a caterpillar hanging upside down, I programmed the intervalometer in my 7D Mark II and periodically took photos. Then I stitched them together into a time-lapse, chuckling at the moment that a caterpillar crawled past his hanging brother.
A few days later, I got to repeat the experience, this time with full video on my Sony mirrorless camera. It did a better job of keeping the wiggling bug in focus! This video really shows how the caterpillar sheds its skin as the chrysalis form emerges. You can see a fully-formed chrysalis in the background to the left.
A few days later, I went out and saw this same chrysalis covered in dewdrops. Pretty!
The chrysalides hung under Whiskey’s window for a couple of weeks. We kept a close eye on them. As the days passed, the green color faded and you could begin to see the form of the butterfly inside.
The next morning, the green color was gone entirely. The skin of the chrysalis was completely transparent, showing the black and orange colors of the adult butterfly.
Not sure how long it would take for the butterfly to emerge, and annoyed at the 30 minute Sony limitation for video, I set up the Canon time-lapse again. It didn’t take long for the butterfly to emerge, stretch its wings, and begin flying around the yard.
Now we see multiple Monarchs flying around the backyard each morning, nectaring at the salvias and flowering plants. It’s fun to realize that these butterflies are likely “ours!” :)