Watch a Monarch grow from an egg into a beautiful butterfly in Rome NY.

Patricia Mucks Alvarez, a local photographer in Rome, did a wonderful job with a series of photos on the life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly. She captures all four stages of the metamorphosis. The egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis), and then adult.

"The journey of the Monarch begins when a tiny egg, the size of a pinhead, is deposited on a suitable Milkweed leaf, usually on the underside. A Monarch can lay 200-300 eggs, one at a time. In approximately 3 days the egg will hatch and the very tiny caterpillar will eat his way out. Often his first meal will be his own eggshell. For the next approximately 10-14 days, his mission is to continuously eat Milkweed. During this time he will shed his "skin" 5 times in order to accommodate his astronomical growth rate. In fact, no other animal grows as quickly!  Now he enters his next phase, the pupa or chrysalis. He attaches his posterior end to a pad of silk which he has spun, he will hang upside down in a "J" shape for several hours until he is ready to shed his skin for the final time and become the chrysalis....an object of beauty to be sure, jade green and studded with "gold" dots! Now a magical transition will begin to take place! In as little as 7 days to as long as 3 weeks or more (depending on weather conditions) the caterpillar will develop into the butterfly! A day or so before the butterfly emerges the chrysalis will darken and when the orange and black markings of the wings become visible inside, the time has come for him to develop into a butterfly."

"The beginning of her final mission in life as a butterfly is to find a mate, breed and lay her eggs! As you view this video notice how plump her abdomen is and how tiny and crumpled her wings are. Notice the pumping of her abdominal muscles as the fluid rushes into the veins of her wings! And the constant motion of her proboscis as she must join the two sections into one "drinking straw." She will now hang quite motionless for a couple of hours to allow her wings to strengthen and harden. Let's all wish her luck and give a big applause for her cooperation in showing off her best angles and for becoming one more of our dwindling Monarch population! (How can I know if she's a she? Because she lacks the scent glands seen on the hind wings of the male!). Thank you all for joining me in this wondrous feat of Nature!"

Special thanks to Patricia Mucks Alvarez for sharing this journey.


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