Saturday, June 18, 2011

Monarch life cycle

A couple of years ago, a friend gave us a monarch chrysalis to watch and wait
until the monarch emerged. From that we learned a bit about monarchs, and that
the monarch eggs are always laid on milkweed plants. We learned to identify
milkweed, learned where there was some near our home. We learned that the
caterpillar lives on the milkweed, feeding night and day until it goes into its
chrysalis, and later emerges as the Monarch. I think the butterflies feed on
nectar of any of a number of plants, the butterfly bush being one of them, maybe
the bee balm plant too. It stays near the milkweed to later lay its eggs.

So, this year my son, on his own initiative, began searching for monarch
caterpillars on milkweeds, wherever we were. The first one he found died before
he got it home. (He's a boy; maybe he was too rough, I don't know. He was with
his dad at the time, and I was at home.) Later, on the way home from church, he
was like, "Stop the car, Dad! There's milkweed on the side of the road!" So Dad
stayed in the car and son and I searched for caterpillars. He found one.

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed

We brought it home and fed it a fresh leaf daily. In about five days it formed
its chrysalis!

 Sorry it is blurry--caterpillar was on plastic wrap over the container, and that is where it formed its chrysalis

After about a week, one Sunday morning before church my son detected that changes were occurring in the chrysalis. Sure enough, when we got back from church the little beauty had emerged!

So we fed it sugar water and flowers for a couple of days, enjoying its beauty, and then we let it go. Before leaving, though, it clung to my son a bit and we got one more cute photo:

We had a lot of fun. So, plan to have your own life-cycle experience in the spring next year! It was very "Charlotte Mason" and engaging!

Thanks for reading!

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