Friday, May 2, 2008

Birth Day

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.  
Here I've moved her back to her Mexican Milkweed for her first drink.  
Just today, I learned how to tell male from female.  If it were male, there would be a large black smudge on each wing of the black veins closest to the body.  This is female.  Ha, learn something new every day. :)


  1. Wow! Strikingly beautiful photographs, CeeCee!

    And I think we both may have the same camera!
    Is yours a Canon Powershot A560?

    I love this camera, too. My hubby bought it for me last year, but my old camera wasn't borken, and I'm always of the mind-set "If it ain't broke'.....

    But that camera was a Samsung Digimax 200...and I never could get the zoom to work...if it even had one! hehe

    What a difference between those two cameras, though. wow!

    Great photos AND terrific tutorial on Monarchs. You are a font of info. I love how easy it is to learn new things visiting your blog.

  2. Alas, I have the Powershot A540. Like you, we are of the "if it ain't broke". Mine, being older than yours still takes great shots. The kids aren't allowed to touch it---that's how the last one bit the dust. It got dropped.
    Thanks for the nice comments. I do love catching bits of this and that on the camera!