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.
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.