Thursday, 29 January 2015

Monarch Mania

Planted along the rear fence of a property that backs onto a walkway nearby is a thick row of Swan plants (a species of milkweed) and the favourite food of the Monarch butterfly caterpillar (larvae).

Unfortunately for the late runners in the caterpillar to chrysalis race, they have very nearly run out of leaves to eat as the plants are virtually all ‘swans’- the hairy seed pod that resembles a swan. It was a hive of activity along the back fence, from the hoards of hungry caterpillars….

…to the ones that knew it was time to hang upside down & prepare for an amazing transformation.

While some hung patiently waiting for that special day….

…the summer heat had encouraged others to break free.

Luckily this butterfly’s neighbours had already emerged otherwise their wet wings may have tangled.

A few held back, building up strength….

… to suddenly emerge without warning…

…and hang quietly, slowly stretching and drying their wings in the summer sun…

…opening and closing them before lifting off and flying away….(my battery ran out right about here hence no flying butterfly & a slightly blurred shot!)

It was amazing how quickly the butterflies emerged when the chrysalis was at the stage of showing the wing pattern, just seconds and they were out. I rescued a chrysalis that was just about to hatch, a caterpillar had eaten the stem and it was in danger of dropping to the ground. I was going to bring it home but by the time I had walked to the end of the row it had cracked the case and was crawling out. I hung it behind some pods out of the wind. Unfortunately for others the wind was too strong and they had fallen to the ground where their wings had stayed compressed.

Mum & I also moved some of the caterpillars off the bare plants and onto the ones that still had a few leaves left- to join a few hundred other caterpillars. At least they would have a fighting chance but we also noticed that some of the smaller caterpillars were obviously adapting to the food shortage and were already hanging upside down waiting to turn.

Nature sure is an amazing thing.

If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies.  ~Author Unknown


  1. Gorgeous photos Shellie - looking forward to checking out your other posts before I go to the Sth Island next week.

    1. Thanks Vicky, much appreciated. Enjoy your time down South, you'll fall in love with New Zealand all over again. Look out for us on the road and do say hello if you spot us. Safe travels.

  2. Shellie, I would like to use your photo of the butterly emerging from the cocoon in a book. Can I get your permission to use it? Thank you Jack Uldrich - the book will be titled Business as Unusual - I can be reached at


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