Raising Monarchs, 2019
From Chrysalis to Butterfly
March 29, 2020

  The big moment in the life of a chrysalis (or its observer) occurs when the metamorphosis is complete and a monarch emerges. As in much everything else, patience is important, since it takes an average of 8 to 12 days for the transformation to happen.

On the morning of day 9, the chrysalis below appears perfectly ordinary.

  By the evening of day 9, something new develops: The chrysalis begins to become transparent, and a portion of a monarch wing is visible.
Signs of butterfly within chrysalis
  On the morning of day 10, the chrysalis appears black. Actually, its transparency has increased.
Dark chrysalis
  The "black" phase lasts a half-hour or less. The time difference between the photo above and the one below is 7 minutes. And, yes, in the photo below the bottom of the chrysalis opens and the monarch struggles to emerge.
Monarch emerging
  This particular monarch took longer than the others to work free of the now obviously transparent shell of its chrysalis.
Monarch working itself free
  The monarch flips out of its chrysalis shell and hangs upside-down.
Monarch out
  After the monarch is assured of its grip, the next phase begins.
Monarch is free
  Fluid from the oversized body of the monarch is pumped into and expands its wings.
Monarch wing growth
  The monarch body decreases and its wings increase.
Monarch wing growth
  The wings take about 10 minutes to achieve their full size.
New wings of a monarch
  After the pumping is finished, the monarch hangs about while its wings dry and assume their proper shape.
A resting monarch
  I took the above photo on the day after the monarch came out of its chrysalis, although the monarch's wings were already in good shape the previous evening.

Note: I've added a video of the chrysalis-to-monarch transformation, Aug. 16, 2023.

The next step is releasing the adult monarch.

My monarch home page  ||  and Pennsylvania butterfly page

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