Unknown butterfly species. Image: Su Leslie 2020
Nature’s message was always there and for us to see. It is written on the wings of butterflies. — Kjell Bloch Sandved
Images: Su Leslie 2017
Last summer the Big T and I planted milkweed, and enjoyed front-row seats to the lives of some monarch butterflies. From egg to mature caterpillar takes around two weeks; the chrysalis stage lasts around 10 days, and a butterfly can emerge, dry its wings and fly away in about 10 minutes.
It is a special privilege to observe nature at work. Over this past summer, the milkweed that the Big T and I planted attracted record numbers of monarch butterflies. When it became clear that most of the caterpillars were falling prey to wasps and praying manti, the Big T built a butterfly sanctuary. This meant that not only did dozens of caterpillars survive to emerge as viable butterflies, but that we had ring-side seats to one of nature’s most beautiful shows.
We watched and documented the transition from egg to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly — right up to the moment our “babies” flew away for their winter hibernation.