DP Photo Challenge: the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning

The beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning. Close-up shot of Monarch butterfly chrysalis hanging from cable tie against black background. The wings are already visible as the chrysalis shell becomes translucent, indicating that emergence is imminent. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

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.

The Daily Post Photo Challenge | Delta

Another butterfly update: with video

Ready to fly. Close-up shot of one of fourteen monarch butterflies that emerged from it's cocoon in our garden today. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Ready to fly. One of fourteen monarch butterflies that emerged from it’s cocoon in our garden today. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The Big T’s monarch rescue programme is proving to be incredibly successful. Over the last few days about twenty five butterflies have emerged; fourteen of them today.

Here’s a video I made this afternoon; just a few of the hatchlings getting ready to take flight and leave us forever. Apologies for the slightly out-of-focus bits.

Regular Random: five minutes of caterpillar feeding frenzy

Thanks entirely to the Big T’s efforts at butterfly husbandry (more on that to come), our swan plants are positively heaving with Monarch caterpillars.

Most of them are huge and are rapidly chrysalising (if that’s a word) — which is fortunate because at the rate they eat, they are in danger of running out of food.

So this week’s five minutes of random was spent watching swan plant foliage disappear before my eyes.

Five Minutes of Random (the RegularRandom challenge) is hosted by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequently Flying Scientist.

All photos ©Su Leslie, 2017