|9:20 A.M. Saturday - are those wings?|
I learned a new word for the stem: cremaster (side note: a second new word is frass…caterpillar poop). It was firmly stuck into its ball of white silk. The bottom of the chrysalis, where the caterpillar's head had been, bulged toward the front, with two gold spots perched on top like eyes. The gold and black band at the chrysalis's widest point still glowed like a miniature string of lights.
After lunch there was just the slightest darkening within the chrysalis. It was subtle, almost a smokiness under the green.
|12:50 P.M. Saturday - kinda shadowy in there.|
We went to the movies and shopped at the mall, came home, had dinner, cleaned up. Though the chrysalis was in plain sight on the counter, it's surprising how much more observant I was with a camera in hand. The sooty look inside had resolved into the black of the butterfly's wings. The orange was clearly visible through the milky skin.
|8:50 P.M. - fragile - handle with care!|
Changes had been happening slowly all day. I was afraid I'm miss something and only waited 45 minutes to take another photo. Was it darker or was it just a different angle in the light? It was hard to be sure! What do you think?
|9:35 P.M. Saturday|
I woke just after midnight and couldn't sleep - what was I missing downstairs? Finally I got up to check. I really had no idea how fast events would happen now. If I missed the hatching while sleeping I'd be so disappointed. Reassuringly, the chrysalis was positively darker but still a milky green.
|12:30 A.M. Sunday|
I got a few hours of sleep but woke with that wide-awake feeling you have that you've forgotten something important. Too early to get up, but might as well make coffee and check on how the night had gone for the monarch. He'd been busy. The chrysalis was like polished ebony with just a hint of cloudiness at the top and front. The wings were so clearly visible, they seemed about to push through the chrysalis at any moment.
|5:40 A.M. Sunday - just when you thought it couldn't get any prettier...|
Two hours later the skin of the chrysalis seemed completely transparent. The gold belt around the front had dimmed to a brassy color. The chrysalis quivered on its cremaster a few times every minute. Now I really hovered in the kitchen, much to my husband's amusement. The minutes ticked by, but I was afraid to leave the room. According to internet sources, once the hatching began it would be over in seconds.
|7:50 A.M. - not much longer now!|
|9:46 A.M. Sunday - here we go!|
Now, I knew that butterflies had to dry their wings before they could fly, and my research said it would take about 2 hours. That seems like a lot of time to air-dry two tiny wings, doesn't it?
Well it turns out that the air doesn't dry the wings and abdomen out so they become sleek and slender. The newborn butterfly gets rid of extra water the same way we do - he excretes it.
On my kitchen island, in this case. Drop by slow drop, for two hours. He stretched his wing muscles periodically and seemed to spend a lot of time cleaning his face. Occasionally he stretched his proboscis too.
|The wings are thinning and stretching!|
It was a warm but breezy day. I'd chosen a sheltered spot near some lantana bushes that were still blooming. I carried him out, anticipating his exciting first flight, and he…sat there. I shot a photo and finally had to leave him to do an errand. On my return, he was still perched on his stick. He opened his wings twice - two spots show he's a boy! I ran back into the kitchen for my camera, raced back out - and he was gone.
|Flight 1 for Mexico is leaving…soon!|
Guess his take-off time had arrived.
I compiled all of my photos and videos into a slideshow set to music. It's on YouTube, but if all goes well it's embedded here: