A Monarch Butterfly Is Born

Yesterday morning, our monarch butterfly pupa was all dark.

We could see the orange and black of small wings inside. Sometime around 9am, its home for the last 10 days split open and it emerged head first. Ungainly and awkward looking at first, it hung upside down allowing its wings to expand to their full size.

Here’s a video made from time lapse images.



About a half hour later, its wings were dry, and it decided that it was time to move on and greet the world.

Harland let it outside where it flew up into a tree and landed on a tree limb to enjoy the breeze.

It may have been born yesterday, but it’s really 5 weeks old. First a tiny egg,

then a leaf munching caterpillar,

and now a glorious delicate winged butterfly.

And soon, it will start a long journey south to Mexico to spend the winter.

(By the way, it’s a girl butterfly. All these weeks I’ve been calling it a boy as there is no way to tell the sex until the butterfly hatches, and I figured I had a 50/50 chance of being right by calling it a he. Well, I was wrong. And she’s probably been mad at me all this time. Sorry Miss Butterfly.)


Catch up on the previous posts here:

Monarch Monday – Week 1

Monarch Monday – Week 2

Monarch Monday – Week 3

Monarch Monday – Week 4

Monarch Monday – Week 5

Monarch Butterfly Update


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Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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30 Responses

  1. Nice time lapse! I had two come out his morning, and luckily I got up just in time to notice one had fallen, and place him back on his perch. It wouldn’t have been long and his wings would have been permanently wrinkled and he’d have to go in the freezer (he was one of those guys that formed on the aquarium glass instead of the screen).

  2. Doe of Mi. says:

    Wow that was fantastic to see. Thank you so much. A butterfly is born – how beautiful.

  3. Doe of Mi. says:

    Sorry, I meant to ask – how can you tell its female? I’m curious.

  4. Aww, Suzanne, how wonderful! I can’t believe you were at work. I would love to see that right before my own eyes. You did such a great job with this butterfly series. I love the time lapsed photos..that was great!!

    • Suzanne says:

      Me either, I was so hoping to be there, but Harland was wonderful to take all the pics and take care of Miss Butterfly too.
      Thanks Bonnie!

  5. Tina says:

    Great job. How exciting! I am so glad someone asked about the gender thing because I was going to have to. I thought maybe she just had longer lashes….just kidding!

    • Suzanne says:

      Thanks Tina. We should have known when she was complaining of a headache hanging upside down before she turned into a pupa. Must be a girl. 🙂

  6. Pam K. says:

    I’ve loved following this Monarch series! The time lapse was wonderful–so great to see God’s beautiful handiwork coming to fruition!

  7. Kathy says:

    What a great series. Loved seeing the butterfly emerge. Good luck to Miss Butterfly with her trip south. The other butterflies won’t believe her story of the two humans who took her in. LOL. 😉

  8. Julie says:

    Such beautiful photos and cool time-lapse! Didn’t know that’s how you tell the difference between male & female. Thanks for the learning!

  9. Andrea says:

    Suzanne, I just loved this butterfly series you did (actually I really enjoy reading all of your posts), I had no idea how a caterpillar turned into a butterfly.
    Beautiful pictures as always,thanks for sharing!
    Andrea (just south of you in Kansas City)

  10. Sharon Thompson says:

    This was a lovely tale that you told…literally 🙂
    I once worked at a factory that made Cota buses. It wasn’t until crawling from underneath the bus, that after about an hours passing, I noticed a newly hatched Monarch butterfly upon my shoulder. I let it be, and watched, as it ever so slowly… evan to open its wings to dry. I wish. I’d captured a photo.

  11. Sharon Thompson says:

    typo: ever so slowly

  12. Pam says:

    I was so happy to see you start this series because I knew it would be great to use at school. I have been taking monarchs to class to share the joy of watching them metamorphosize (is that a word). Today I went home for lunch and thought I would grab a caterpillar off our milkweed. I wasn’t finding one and an adult flew into the area and layed an egg right in front of me. So I took it to school. Now we’lll get to see the WHOLE process.

  13. Becky L. says:

    Loved the butterfly series. We went to a Butterfly pavilion last year on our trip back from Crater Lake. They grow monarch butterflies and I got a ton of photos there. It was so beautiful. All butterflies need specific plants to lay their eggs on. Alot of those plants are now considered weeds, like the milk weed and they are eliminated from public and private lands. That’s why we don’t see many monarchs any more, esp. in OR. I learned that at another butterfly place called wings of wonder. So we need to plant plants that attract butterflies!

  1. April 16, 2012

    […] A Monarch Butterfly Is Born « Window On The Prairie – Yesterday morning, our monarch butterfly pupa was all dark. We could see the orange and black of small wings inside. Sometime around 9am, its home for the last 10 days split open and it emerged head first. Ungainly and … […]

  2. December 17, 2014

    […] See also: A Monarch Butterfly Is Born […]

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