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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Monarch Eclosure #2

There were two monarch caterpillars preparing to pupate one day back in January; one of them had to go first so I called it Pupa #1. #1 emerged as a butterfly yesterday making it Eclosure #2.

Here are some photos of the gradual change in the appearance of the pupa over the last 3 days. The last photos are about three hours before the emergence and show the transparency of the pupal case at this point.

This pupa was attached to the underside of a phlomis leaf by a tiny hook (the cremaster, in black) through a pad of silk. By the end of the 29 days of pupation the silk seems worn and weakened; but the hook held through some strong winds that rocked the pupa in its final days.

Yesterday 2/12 at about 3:15 I got home and went to check on the butterfly's progress. I thought this one would wait for the following morning, but I was surprised to find the pupa case split open top to bottom with the black fuzzy wings just starting to bulge out the cracks. In the minute or two it took to run for the camera the butterfly had fully emerged, looking very bug-like and bedraggled.
Over the next 40 minutes the butterfly hung upside down while fluid flowed from the swollen abdomen into the wings. In an amazingly short time the wings are fully extended and rigid while the abdomen has shrunken.

At 5 o'clock, the butterfly has settled for the night in its roost under the next phlomis leaf over.

The next morning, 2/13 at around 8:30 the butterfly is in the same spot.  In the next several minutes it began to climb away from its roost up the phlomis stem toward the sun.

It took an hour and a half for the monarch to climb to the top of the plant.  Once there, the sun slowly inched past the shadow of the neighbor's palm tree to shine directly on the butterfly's wing muscles.

And then at 10:50 am #1 flew off.

#1's pupation stats:

J to pupation took 43 hours
Pupation to eclosure took 29 days 6 hours
Eclosure to flight took 19.5 hours


Katie (Nature ID) said...

Great commentary. Like me, I see you back-post. I have to admit, I'm a little surprised at the timing of the monarch adult emergence in February.

vanessa cardui said...

It's surprising especially tonight, given the rain that is currently pouring down and predictions of snow at low elevations. Brrr, bad juju for butterflies.
When I post in the past, it is to document the actual date something occurred rather than when I get around to posting about it. I hope everyone can forgive this eccentricity of mine (and yours!).