Sunday, August 09, 2015

How to hatch monarch eggs into butterflies

Two of my friends have recently been hatching monarchs and I thought this might be a fun and exciting experience for us. Harriet has been really into bugs ever since she got a bug explorer outfit and kit from her Uncle Dave and Aunt Lisa for her birthday so this seemed like the perfect thing for us to do. I did a little internet research and came across a bunch of sites that gave us the info we needed to get started. 

First find monarch eggs. They lay them on the underside of milkweed leaves and it takes a keen eye, but once you spot the first one, and know what you're looking for, you see them everywhere. I wrapped the leaf end in wet paper towel and covered that with tin foil to keep it wet so it wouldn't dry out.
Next after a few days it will hatch into the tiniest thing you have ever seen. This is a very close up shot. They will grow noticeably bigger each day.  I put them in my turtle's old cage with some paper towel lining the bottom. They need the paper towel replaced each day because of all the droppings.

Harriet in her bug explorer outfit getting some fresh milkweed for those hungry caterpillars.

It was so much fun watching these guys grow and move. Even Eloise loves it and runs over to the cage each morning to see them. They will shed their skin numerous times for the next week or more.  Eventually they will get very colorful like the ones above and have white dots on their feet and that means they are in fifth instar stage, the last one before chrysalis making. This whole process from egg to fifth instar takes 10-14 days.

This is the first time they leave the milkweed and they go and find the perfect spot to make their chrysalis. They make a bit of silk with their mouth that they will hang upside down from.

Next stage: J form. They curl up and get ready to shed their skin again and become a chrysalis. We never got to see them actually doing it, but we did see many of them become discolored and look like they were almost dead. This means they are very close to chrysalis making.

I love these cuties, particularly the gold gots and gold line at the top. We looked it up and the gold dots are little areas that let the chrysalis breathe. Air vents. 

This stage lasts for 10-14 days. The whole process from egg to butterfly takes about a month.

A few hours away from hatching out.

Right before emerging it goes from black to clear. 

Harriet spotted the happening at breakfast one morning. It was so thrilling to see it emerge. Here you can see that the wings haven't expanded yet.

It has emerged! It needs about 4+ hours for the wings to dry out before being able to fly.

The release! To date we have released seven, have two more chrysalises and five more caterpillars still eating away. We have learned so much and have loved every minute of doing this as a family. Hopefully we can inspire others to do this too.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

This makes me so very happy!