The monarch butterfly has always capture my interest. Not uncommon really as it has captured the hearts of possibly millions or more people worldwide to some degree. It is unquestionably the most well known of all the butterfly species. and today I had a great and very personal experience with one of these beautiful creatures in my own yard.
I recently took a new found interest in learning more about butterflies, including a trip to the local bookstore for a couple books on butterflies. This interest has blossomed further into learning how to raise and release butterflies back into the wild. I have started with the monarch this year as it has been categorized as the easiest butterfly to raise in captivity for release. A couple weeks ago I set out and searched for a few caterpillars and started this journey with the help of a new found friend by the name of Todd Stout and the excitement brought about by a recent butterfly field trip he put on.
After collecting a few caterpillars and some milkweed to use as a host plant the journey was underway. The caterpillars grew quickly and each day I changed their food and watched their progress. After a short time one of the bigger caterpillars changed into a chrysalis, otherwise known as pupating. One by one each caterpillar metamorphosed into their new but temporary home.
Last night I had my first butterfly emerge from the pupa and today I had my second one break out of its chrysalis and emerge as a beautiful monarch butterfly. Such an incredible thing to witness over such a short period of time where a very small caterpillar grows and eventually turns into such a stunning creature.
I took the butterfly out to let it finish drying its wings and to eventually be set free so it can begin to migrate south soon. As it was drying out its wings on one of my flowers I took a few images to commemorate this grand experience and to capture the grand beauty of the monarch while I still could before it gathered its strength and flew up in my pear tree.
I have a few more still waiting to emerge and I am anxious to experience this great moment in nature again and again. I hope more people will take an interest in butterflies and in the great natural world around us. I hope my photography will help inspire others to cherish and value the beauty all around us. We don’t have to look far, many times it is in our own backyards. But wherever we find nature I hope we all cherish and enjoy it as much as I do.