The last cocoon. The final butterfly has emerged and flown away, leaving an empty shell and the Big T and I with new skills and great memories of our Monarch rescue mission. Image: Su Leslie, 2017
2017 has proved to be a bit of a watershed for me photographically.
I have taken more shots than ever before, spent time learning about photography and my cameras, and for the first time have actively composed shots, rather than just pressing the shutter and hoping for the best.
I have also learned that seeing the world through a camera lens brings me closer to understanding and engaging with the natural environment.
So my choice of most meaningful shot for this week’s Daily Post challenge is less about my development as a photographer than a reminder of the fragile beauty of the natural world outside my door.
Monarch caterpillar; begining the chrysalis process. Image: Su Leslie, 2017
Monarch caterpillar, shedding its skin. Image: Su Leslie, 2017
Monarch chrysalis. Image; Su Leslie, 2017
Monarch butterfly. Image: 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.
Monarch butterfly almost ready to emerge from chrysalis. Image: Su Leslie, 2017
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.