Sunday, August 24, 2008

"Butterflies Are Free to Fly"

I have always been fascinated by the whole caterpillar to butterfly process and have been casually eyeing the milkweed plants for monarch caterpillars. Several weeks ago, I found three of these:

I fed them fresh milkweed leaves as needed, until they became:

So far, two of them have hatched. I let them go out back. Here is one of the beautiful monarchs that emerged from their chrysalis:

I actually still have one caterpillar who is about done growing. I brought him in unintentionally. I must have had an egg on some of the milkweed that I brought in. They start out very tiny and grow very quickly. It amazes me that they can go from fat, stripey worm to a coccoon that is about half of their original size to beautiful orange, white and black "flying flower". And you can't really tell from my less than stellar photographs, but on the coccoon, there are several areas (the ridge in the top half of the chrysalis is one spot) that look like they are gilded with gold. It actually shines and looks metallic. I suppose if I read my butterfly book, it might tell me what it really is, but to me it looks like an insect version of a Faberge egg, all gold and glittery.
One week left of summer vacation, than back to school for Nicholas. Soon I will be posting pictures of the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival, fall colors, sheep in full fleece. Although the daytime temperatures are still hot and two nights ago the nighttime temperatures were still too hot and sticky to sleep very comfortably in, we are starting to feel that cool down most nights, it's not quite so humid most days and it is starting to smell like fall. While I hate to see the long days go, and like the laid back schedule of "no school", I am not a fan of hot and humid, so much prefer the temperatures that are coming. Hope everyone is enjoying these last warm weeks before football weather is upon us.