Monarchs are one of my favorite butterflies. I think it's because it's so easy to capture their life cycle on camera.
The one phase I can't quite master with my little Canon Powershot is the egg stage. It takes great macro shots, but not quite that macro. The tiny egg will hatch four days after it's laid and then it's off to the races for the tiny caterpillar. It's first meal is it's own egg shell.
This little girl spent the last two weeks eating milkweed. Specifically, Mexican Milkweed. They also like Antelope Horn Milkweed, but most of ours got mown down in the pasture (boo hoo!!)
They wander quite far before finding the perfect spot to begin metamorphosis. This one was nearly 50 feet from her milkweed home and up several feet on a stone pillar.
I always thought Monarchs somehow spun their beautiful green chrysalis, but wondered how it was possible. I later found that the green thing you see is actually the caterpillar itself. They shed their skin one last time, and the lime green jewel is what is left behind. I still wonder what body part makes up the golden dots along the top.
She stays in the chrysalis for 10-14 days. In our part of Texas, I've found 10 days to be the magic number.
"Birthday". This morning I managed to time my camera wandering perfectly with her hatching. Here she's trying to figure out what to do with those long legs and beautiful wings. She has to hang upside down for about an hour for her wings to dry properly.