Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Monarch Butterfly Re-Wind: From Egg to Worm!

I love it when I can do something super fun and educational at the same time with my kids, and watching monarch caterpillars turn into butterflies has been one of those things.  Just a couple days ago we got to release another butterfly that we watched transform and hatch in a jar!

If you enjoyed my recent "Our Very Hungry Caterpillar" post, this one will re-wind back to an even earlier stage in the butterfly's life...a single egg!  I was out the other day picking milkweed leaves to feed our 2nd "very hungry caterpillar," and looking on the undersides of the leaves it only took me seconds before I spotted an actual monarch EGG.  They are incredibly tiny, perfectly round little specks on the underside of the leaves, and are only about the size of a period at the end of a sentence.  Here you can see it next to my zoomed-in fingertip:

I put it in a little bug cage and a couple days later, sure enough, "out popped a very tiny and very hungry caterpillar."

I can't get over how tiny these things are.  This one above is maybe 1/16th of an inch long at the most.  He's so tiny, I have to stare for a while, inspecting every inch of his little cage to find him.  Yesterday I had to stretch a piece of pantyhose over the top of the lid so he couldn't crawl out of the air holes!

So, we've currently just let loose our 2nd monarch, are watching our 3rd caterpillar eat and grow that my parents gave us last weekend, and now have this teeny speck who will be our 4th!  So amazing to watch, and what a cool nature lesson for the kids!!

So, if you want to find some yourself, just look for milkweed.  Here's a photo I took of some of ours last month:
 Right now the plants are starting to grow their pods.  I used to love opening up the milkweed pods as a kid, letting loose the silky seeds in the wind!  But, you can be pretty sure if it's milkweed if you break off a leaf or stem and this white "milk" oozes out:
So next time you're outside and come across some milkweed, take a peek under those leaves!  If you come across any tiny white eggs, it's a great way to teach your kids about the miracles of nature, and just how tiny and fragile we all start out!

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