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Monarch Butterfly Lifecycle At Food Chain Farm

In late October, 2012, Monarch butterflies began to show up by the dozens in our milkweed garden we had been cultivating for about 5 years. (Oct 19, 2012)

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They fed on the nectar from the blossoms. (Oct 19, 2012)

You can see the butterfly sucking up nectar. (Oct 19, 2012)

And generally hanging around the milkweed. (Oct 19, 2012)

We later figured out they were laying eggs too. (Nov 4, 2012)

It was not long before we started seeing caterpillars. (Nov 4, 2012)

They crawled all over the milkweed. (Nov 4, 2012)

Then we started seeing two or more at one time. (Nov 6, 2012)

And three or four. We had hundreds of them! (Nov 6, 2012)

The were eating the milkweed leaves right down to the stem. (Nov 6, 2012)

They coexisted with other garden bugs. (Nov 6, 2012)

About this time, the seed pods of the milkweed burst, sending seeds flying on the wind - except Karen caught 2 bags full to plant. (Nov 6, 2012)

Meanwhile, the butterflies were beginning to look old and tired. (Nov 6, 2012)

And caterpillars were getting fat. (Nov 6, 2012)

Pretty soon, they had stripped all the leaves from the milkweed. (Nov 25, 2012)

And started eating the seed pods. (Nov 25, 2012)

There are six in this photo and several more on the stem below the phoot. (Nov 26, 2012)

Then we found the first chrysalis. This is the pupal stage between caterpillar and butterfly. (Nov 25, 2012)

We found many more, on the milkweed, the borcolli, cabbage, fence, etc. (Nov 25, 2012)

Then we saw a caterpillar attaching himself to the bottom of a brocolli leaf. (December 1, 2012)

And found two under a swiss chard leaf. (December 1, 2012)

And this on one a fence. (December 17, 2012)

In a short time, they turned dark, but it was actually becoming a butterfly inside. (December 15, 2012)

The butterfly became more visible. (December 17, 2012)

And the chrysalis discolored. (December 19, 2012)

And then later the same day, it was empty. (December 19, 2012)

And the butterfly had emerged! Note the wings are still unfolding. (December 19, 2012) Here is a time lapse film of the process:

Unfortunately, its wing had not unfolded correctly after 3 days and we found it on the gournd. We doubt it will survive. You might find this interesting: Are Butterflies Two Different Animals in One? The Death And Resurrection Theory