Hatching Monarch Butterflies at Home

by Josh on September 10, 2010 · 5 comments

in garden,Journal

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 the chrysalises shortly after we got them home. The one in the foreground is about to hatch.
Monarch Chrysalises

Here are two monarchs just after they emerged from their chrysalises.  They are inflating their wings with fluid from their bodies.

Monarch Drying Wings

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.

Monarchs Ready to Fly

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.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Carolyn @ life, love & puppy prints September 10, 2010 at 11:42 am

This looks so cool! I have never had the opportunity to watch a butterfly transform! I have also never been to the Monarch Festival!! I may have to check it out! Thanks for the tip! 🙂

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Josh September 14, 2010 at 6:41 am

Thanks for visiting, Carolyn! I hope you got up close to some Minneapolis monarchs this past weekend.

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Cathy September 14, 2010 at 7:42 pm

We live “out in the woods” and always allow some milkweed to grow in our front yard for the monarchs. This year we had a record 5 chrysalises where I could see them (I know there are lots I never find) – one under my rotating compost bin, 3 on one window sill and 1 on an outside light – but I never caught any of them hatching this year (can’t stay home from work every day). It is one of nature’s beautiful miracles. /Cathy, Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada

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darcie July 13, 2011 at 2:16 pm

we are LOVING raising our own monarchs! We’ve been finding soo many in our backyard garden! I’m blogging about it here http://www.gustgab.com/2011/07/becoming-butterflies-our-monarchs-have.html
xoxo
Darcie

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