My bungalow yard has suddenly become a terrific habitat for monarch butterflies thanks to an ideal tagteam between Mother Nature and me. Nature did her part by distributing milkweed seeds to my yard from nearby wetlands and then providing more precipitation than in recent years. My part was to take a lot of summer vacations and be lackadaisical in weeding my landscaping. The result: an explosion of monarch-friendly milkweed.
Once I started noticing all the milkweed, I tried to keep my eyes open for monarch caterpillars. I thought if I could catch one and keep it alive indoors, my boys could have private seats to the miracle of butterfly metamorphosis, and make a connection to the natural world in our urban yard. Unfortunately, when I eventually found a caterpillar I made the mistake of leaving it outside while I went to find a suitable container. When I returned, the caterpillar was gone.
I had given up hope of collecting a monarch when Ms. Bungalow arrived home one afternoon with not one but four monarch chrysalises. It turns out that someone she works with hunts for monarchs every summer and offered to share some of the catch with us. The kids were thrilled! We shared one chrysalis with some friends down the road, and then within 72 hours we had watched three monarchs emerge and take wing to begin their migration to Mexico.
Here are two monarchs just after they emerged from their chrysalises. They are inflating their wings with fluid from their bodies.
These monarchs have inflated their wings and are slowly opening and closing them to dry the wings. They are just minutes away from flying off.
More Minneapolis Monarchs
Who knows where our butterflies went after they flew off, but maybe we can see them again at the Minneapolis Monarch Festival. If you are a local reader looking for a monarch moment of your own, check out this great event at lovely Lake Nokomis, here in Minneapolis, this Saturday, September 11th from 9am to 2pm.