our butterfly emerges

It was on Day 8 that the butterfly emerged!  At first when I checked on him, he looked like this:

I sent the girls to VBS, started to clean up a bit, and about an hour later came out to find this:

Isn't he beautiful?  Yes, I could tell that it was a "he" because his the black veins were on the thinner side, and he also had two distinctive black spots on the lower wings.  The spots are special scales that emit pheromones that can detect when a female butterfly is present. Females have thicker veins and no black spots on their lower wings.  (I'm sorry I did not specifically photograph this difference to show you!  I was just too caught up in how remarkable this creature was!)

He just clung onto the branch for a long time, letting his wings dry.  He really didn't seem too interested or rushed to go anywhere.  I was happy that he didn't want to hurry away.  I kept staring at his body wondering how in the world he became so beautiful?  His body was now black and white and furry and his legs were so long!

Here's a crop of the wing so that you can see the detail more clearly.  I'm just amazed at how detailed the wings are.  They look like tiny pixels all lined up just perfectly.

Here's another close up of the previous wing photo.

A glimpse of his previous home.  It's amazing to me that he fit in there!

Here's his face.  He kept curling and unfurling his proboscis.  It's really fascinating to watch.  I was continually struck by how furry his body was.  And those white spots are just so pretty!

Here's a cropped in photo of his legs.  There are "V's" at the end of each leg making him "sticky" and able to cling onto just about anything.  I loved watching him walk around.

There's his little face.  Seems like a face that only a mother could love.  A little bug-eyed for me! Those little tufts at the top of his head look a bit owl-ish to me too.  Maybe that's why his wings are so beautiful--makes up for the lack of beauty in his face.

And, there he is again.

Well, I wish this story had a happy ending, but I'm sorry that it does not.  Our butterfly stayed on our bush for a long time, but when he finally took flight, he fell and broke his wing.  After that, he could not fly anymore, and seemed really hurt.  We tried to rescue him by putting him on some of our nectar flowers, and even giving him some sugar water before bed.  But, sadly when we got up the next morning, he was dead.  I was so sad that I cried.  All the work he did seemed so wasted.  We had watched him grow and eat and transform and finally emerge a beautiful creature, and then he just died.

That same day, as I was thinking about all of this, Miss M looked out our window and noticed that a butterfly was visiting our milkweed plant.  We ran out to look at it, and it was a male monarch butterfly--just like ours!  He was perfectly formed, and seemed so happy.  Somehow he gave me hope--that someday all brokenness will be restored and made right.  Butterflies won't fall, break their wings and die anymore.  Someday.

Here he is, broken wing an all.  If you look closely on the lower right wing, you can see the black spot I'm referring to which makes him a male.  I decided to keep this guy as a reminder of hope--that even broken wings will be made right someday.  

Well, that is officially the end of my butterfly story.  I have to tell you since our first butterfly, we have acquired two more milkweed plants.  One day a female butterfly came to visit our plants while we were in the yard and we had the privilege of watching her lay eggs an several leaves.  

Would you believe that we currently have watched 20 caterpillars grow from tiny eggs into huge caterpillars?  We currently have 9 chrysalis and 9 caterpillars in our yard.  Yesterday we had our two butterflies emerge successfully from their chrysalis.

Although, this is not really a nature blog, I will be posting some more photos about caterpillars, chrysalis and butterflies.  This little blog is about our lives.  And, currently, sort of by accident, we're doing a lot of butterfly gardening this summer.  Stay tuned for a few more nature posts!