Monday, September 6, 2021

Operation Winged Victory {Butterfly Photos}

As of September 6, 2021, our caterpillar rescue operation has released an even dozen butterflies into the world. We have watched eight monarchs and four queens transform, and we still have four monarch chrysalides and one queen waiting for their wings. Here's a peek into the process.

Queen Butterflies

Make me Your butterfly, O Lord.
Peel back layers and layers and layers
Of wormy flesh and wriggling self
(Always crawling off the altar).
Transform through myriad tiny deaths
Surrender and surrender and surrender
Till final entombment of that old me
And rebirth into winged victory
Soaring and soaring and soaring
Homeward to You.

Monarch Butterflies

Chrysalis on the left and a caterpillar "J-ed up" and preparing for pupation on the right

The caterpillar "unzips" the skin from head to tail. The pupa which hardens into a chrysalis is inside the caterpillar skin.

Monarch pupa (what's inside the caterpillar)

A pair of monarch chrysalides after the pupae contracted and hardened

As the butterfly prepares to emerge, the green chrysalis fades to grey and then becomes translucent, showing the wings of the butterfly within.

Note how swollen the abdomen is and how limp the wings. She pumps the fluid out of the body into the wings. Then they harden over the course of several hours. Until then she cannot fly.

The habitat we used for those caterpillars seems to be no longer available from Amazon, but there are plenty of options, and a large jar covered securely with cheesecloth also works (affiliate link):

Here is a helpful guide if you'd like to try raising your own caterpillars:,containers%20from%20pet%20stores%2C%20etc.

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