Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Monarch Hatches

This misleading silhouette is actually a Monarch butterfly emerging from it's chrysalis. It's always hard to imaging how the butterfly fits in the thing in the first place. From what I can gather, immediately after hatching they instantly inflate, while expelling excess liquids and frass over the next hour or so.

From another angle we see something more resembling the butterfly so beloved. They hang upside down in order to inflate their wings so they can harden properly. Their wings are otherwise limp and similar to a small swatch of silk someone might use to clean their glasses with. It's very unnatural to observe their wings when they're limp like that.

Within a few minutes they've expanded quite a bit, but are still in need of stiffening up.

After the first hour or so, they're capable of flying a short distance but benefit from more time. If they do fly it's usually to escape a predator or to get a better spot perched higher on a tree.

Pictured above were all males which are slightly smaller than the females. 

Here is a female. Her wingspan is slightly greater and she lack two dark marks on the rear wings (not visible in this photo).

Monarch Female: Note the lack of two dark marks on the rear wings.
Monarch Male: Note the two dark marks on the rear wings. Typically these line up with the nearest dark vane.
Weather they are male or female there's just no beating that color. The Monarch butterfly is the color orange of our autumn, and the world is richer for it's existance.