Friday, June 11, 2010

The Runt of the Litter Emerges

This morning, I awoke to a wonderful suprise.  The last of our 7 chrysalises emerged as a small but beautiful male Monarch.  Since he was the last one, and we had already released the other six, he got our full attention.  We saw him emerge from the chrysalis, which is always a wonderful treat.  I've enclosed some pictures and video clips of him emerging, but here is a brief synapsis of what occurs.

When the butterfly first emerges, his wings are all moise and crumpled, and his abdomen appears bloated.  It is filled with a special fluid which must be immediately pumped into his wings in the first 10-15 minutes after emerging.  If not, he/she will never fly.  It is amazing to watch the wings slowly fill up to their full state.  Thereafter, the butterfly will hang upside down for two to four hours allowing the wings to dry.  Then, the butterfly will take off to the skies.

If after emerging from its chrysalis, it falls from it to the ground, it is imperative that the butterfly quickly be placed back up there so it can continue to fill and dry its wings properly.  Most butterflies do not fall in this way, but if you observe this happen, quickly but gently pick it up and help it grasp its chrysalis again.  If for some reason, the chrysalis is not available for the butterfly to cling to, help it to cling to any object that it can hang from in an upside down position.

In the above photos, you can see how engorged the abdomen is when they first emerge.  Then, as they pump that abdominal fluid into their wings over the next 10-15 minutes, they finally take on their full shape.  Thus far, I've raised over 2,000 Monarchs, and I never get tired of seeing them emerge from their chrysalises as new butterflies.  I hope you get to experience this many times over as you raise your own Monarchs.

Monarch Butterfly Emerging (1 of 3)

Monarch Butterfly Emerging (2 of 3)

Monarch Butterfly Emerging (3 of 3)

So, our first batch of Monarchs is finished.  To recap, we had a total of 13 caterpillars.  The first 5 died due to the parasitic worms of a predatory fly.  Fortunately, the remaining caterpillars were still in their eggs when the first 5 were infected.  Thereafter, the remaining 8 hatched out and began their cycle.  We were able to protect them in our covered pavilions.  Of them, 7 made it to butterflies!  Only one died, and that was due to an accident.  When he pupated, his chrysalis fell and burst open.  So, 7 lived and 6 died.  Believe it or not, that's not a bad start for raising Monarchs.  In the wild, on the average, only one would have made it.

Already our next batch of caterpillars are developing and munching away.  Again, we have a variety of ages, varying from eggs to almost ready to pupate.  We'll keep you updated on the progress of the 2nd wave.

Happy Monarching!

Caleb & Janae Warren
Photography and video shots by E. Janae Warren

P.S.  Note to all educators, teachers, students, children, etc: One of the main goals of this site is to provide you with helpful information and support as you endeavor to raise Monarch butterflies and help restore their habitat in your community.  If you do not find an answer to your questions here on my Blog, or at my website:, feel free to email me and I will do my best to help.

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