This section includes information, photos and videos of Monarch butterflies starting when they emerge from their chrysalis. The butterflies were then released in a garden that provided them with the sources of nectar they needed, in addition to the milkweed for their ‘offspring’.
(More general information on the Monarch butterfly can be found here.)
EMERGING AS A BUTTERFLY (a separate page)
As might be expected, the critical stage of the Monarch butterfly emerging from its chrysalis is a fascinating aspect of that insect life. Observing it, as well as all the other life stages of the Monarch, can be very instructive.
IMAGOES (THE BUTTERFLY PROPER)
Below are photos of freshly emerged butterflies both still inside and then as they were being released outside.
MALE OR FEMALE? As can be seen from the photos below, the Monarch male has thinner black veins and two black spots on its hindwings, which are pouches that contain pheromones. Scientists are not sure whether they play a role in that species for attracting a mate. Females have thicker black veins and no black spot.
Another way of telling apart monarch males from females is by looking at the tip of their abdomen when they emerge from the chrysalis (see the page ‘Monarchs Emerging‘ for photos).
SEX RATIO: Of the 17 caterpillars I have raised, 11 were males and only 6 were females. This is a ratio of almost two males to one female. This apparently reflects a disturbing trend of less Monarch females than males, and researchers still don’t know the underlying causes of that decrease.
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Here are some videos of Monarch butterflies trying their wings as they are ready to be released, or just released. The first one shows two males that emerged almost at the same time, and they also had turned into a chrysalis around the same time. When the butterfly starts opening and closing its wings while walking around, that means it is ready to be released outside.
This video below shows a just released female trying its wings on Purple Coneflower, a good source of nectar for Monarch butterflies:
For some unknown reason this male Monarch was shaking its left wings while slowly walking up. However when released outside not long after it behaved normally.
This male Monarch Butterfly below was released on Swamp Milkweed. Milkweeds provide nectar for the adults, and are a critical food source for the caterpillars.
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