“Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.” Stuart Udall
Monarch female extracts nectar from a tropical milkweed. The female can be identified by the thick black lines on either side of the abdomen.
Most insects, including monarchs, go through a four stage life cycle. The monarch female deposits eggs on milkweed host plants and upon hatching, the larvae or caterpillars feed upon the leaves of the milkweed for about five days. Unlike most caterpillars, monarch caterpillars have few problems with predation. Toxins in the milkweed are transferred to the caterpillar and remain in the monarch’s system throughout its lifecycle. Therefore, birds and other predators avoid the monarch. Viceroy butterflies, as a means of avoiding predation, mimic the coloration of the adult monarch.
Learn more about milkweed by clicking here.
Monarch caterpillar munches on the leaves of a tropical milkweed.
Caterpillars go through five molts or instars in their development. The colorful caterpillar pictured, is in the fifth instar and will soon crawl as much as thirty feet away from the host plant. Finding a suitable object on which to attach, the quick little crawler will transform into a beautiful jewel-like chrysalis.
A monarch chrysalis hangs from a railing.
This darkened chrysalis reveals the transformation process. When the ten day process is nearly completed, the new adult can be seen through the transparent chrysalis.
Allowing its wings to dry, the newly emerged adult hangs near the tiny compartment that represents the third stage of its life. Learn more about the life cycle of these remarkable monarchs by clicking here.