Butterflies 101

I am always surprised how many adults have no idea that caterpillars turn into butterflies. Here is how it happens with monarch butterflies.
  1. Let's start from the beginning
    Two butterflies mate
  2. The female then lays an egg on a milkweed plant
    This plant is the only plant that a monarch caterpillar can ingest to continue life and to become a beautiful butterfly
  3. The caterpillar hatches and starts eating the milkweed
  4. The caterpillar eats and eats to get bigger and bigger
    These stages are called instars and the monarch goes through 5 growth stages.
  5. When it's big enough, the fifth instar, the caterpillar will then prepare to form it's chrysalis (this is the correct term for a cocoon when it is forming a butterfly.
    This process is amazing no matter how many times it is witnessed.
  6. A butterfly will emerge 10-14 days later
  7. Once their wings are dry then they will start flying and be on their way.
  8. Then the cycle continues
  9. If you plant it they will come. Now you can grow your own butterflies.
  10. You can typically purchase pesticide free milkweeds at your local independent garden centers in the spring and summer. And always ask if it's pesticide free so that you don't kill the caterpillars. A good sign of clean milkweed is that it will have aphids or caterpillars already on it.