Raising monarch butterflies
Pacing around a flower bush and stunned by the winged beauty of nature. Gracefully sweeping the wind and made you think there is no gravity anymore for a moment. Butterflies conjure up the color and warmth of springtime meadows and flowery gardens nesting with life. No matter such beauty derived from a garden blaster caterpillar that just feasted on your Austin roses, they worth it.
It is also possible to feed them yourself at home rather than letting your garden devour for those pitiless beauties to fly around. A butterfly goes through 4 stages, egg, larva, pupa, and adult. If you catch a female butterfly, you have the chance of seeing all those stages of their lifespan. Firstly you should put the female in an airy container with some plant clippings and water. The type of clippings is important because the mother butterfly needs to lay her eggs on the type of leaf the babies will be able to eat. Then let her acclimate her new home a few days in a dark place. Following those days, if you put the container in a position with plenty of sunlight, and maybe with some fresh clippings it is very likely that she will lay eggs as soon as possible because sunlight encourages female butterflies to oviposit (laying eggs) yeyy!
At that moment you will see with your eyes that a butterfly starts life as a lovely egg. Those eggs may come oval, round or ribbed depending on the species of the butterfly.A female monarch butterfly lays up to 500 egg at a time because only one in 20 makes it to adulthood. If catching a procreative female look hard, start actively searching for laid eggs around, it will take some time and examination to find some yet it is quite possible.The coolest thing about those eggs is that you will be able to see the baby caterpillar growing inside day by day.Especially on monarch butterfly eggs. The growing baby caterpillar(larva) hatches in 4 days and the hatching starts the five instars (stages) of being a larva. As the caterpillar grows and becomes too large for its skin, it molts (sheds its skin.)The intervals between molts are called instars.
Newborn larvae are too hungry that they eat their own eggshells as the first thing, then they start to bite the leaf they are on. monarch butterflies fed on milk thistle leaves. But the milkweed latex is like a glue. Some offsprings die from the first day due to their mouths stick up. If they don’t die, their skin starts to molt.
Second Instar: The caterpillar will continue feeding themselves with leaves while some colors appear on their skin.
Third Instar: Their tentacles grow longer while they get visibly bigger and colors get more vivid.
Fourth Instar: At this stage, caterpillars are so hungry that they are able to eat a whole milk thistle leaf in an hour. They are an inch long and has white dots on its prolegs.
Fifth Instar: This stage is important for caterpillars to find a place to spin a silk button. This button helps them hang upside-down from the leaf and molt one last time.
While hanging upside down, the caterpillars cover themselves with a shell and become pupae(sometimes called as chrysalis)!
The shell of pupa hardens to protect the transforming caterpillar-butterfly inside.Shell has an inconspicuous shade of green color to be disguised from predators around. The mouth turns into a straw to let the butterfly sip nectar from flowers. Finally, wings are formed! This stage lasts two weeks.
When the shells tear open, butterflies emerge out. Because their wings are wet, wrinkly and small, they are not able to fly yet. Butterflies start to pump hemolymph(their body fluid) into the wings to make them grow and harden. It takes 3 to 4 hours to wings to become suitable to fly. Butterfly ready!