Here's to another caterpillar filled week! Earlier this week Kathryn and I hiked up to the meadow on another part of the preserve and collected Monarch Caterpillars to raise. 25ish caterpillars later, I again have my hands full with plenty of munching mouths to feed!
We have monarchs at all different stages of development, egg, larva, pupa and butterfly. After hatching from an egg the monarch caterpillar will eat almost nonstop for about 15 days, eventually weighing more than 2700 times its original weight! For reference, if a human baby were to grow at the same rate as a monarch caterpillar it would weigh about 200,000 lbs by the time it is 15 days old.
Upon its final molt, the caterpillar enters into the pupa stage. and now hangs in a jade colored chrysalis. See below for a video of a monarch caterpillar molting its skin and exposing the chrysalis underneath. The whole process takes just a matter of minutes.
The monarch will then develop inside the chrysalis for about 2 weeks, between 9-15 days. Near the end of the pupal stage the chrysalis will begin to darken and become transparent enough that you can make out the orange and black wings of the butterfly inside.
Can you see the wing?
Below is one of the adult Monarch Butterflies that emerged from a chrysalis earlier this week.
Thanks to Butterfly wrangler Tom, this monarch was safely transferred from chrysalis to Ironweed
In other news, fall is finally on its way! I found the first of the Buckeye nuts this week, and also I spotted a first year beaver hurriedly getting ready for winter!
Autumn Coralroot (Corallorhiza odonrorhiza) is still going strong, stop out soon if you would like to see it in good blooming condition!