Tag Archives: butterflies

Nature’s Ultimate Transformation

-Newly born MonarchFor me, there have been a few positive aspects regarding “Terrible 2020. “Covid-19’s Zoom World  isolation has given me time to learn to cook and also to study butterflies.

Recently, I decided to learn the difference between the celebrated and now endangered Monarch and the lesser known Queen. Walking my garden, I had noticed two similar but different caterpillars on milkweed that I had not seen together before. When the weather got unusually cold, I decided to bring them inside on their hosts plants.

“You are going to make those butterflies weak!” My husband Ed told me.

I smiled, replying, “Well at least they will live.” I had researched and learned that about ten percent overall make it due to predation and the elements. 

-Queen rust colored (below) all photos JTL-Monarch orange (below) both have white dots and stain glass window patternWith a little convincing, Ed helped me carry a heavy, old, lidded aquarium into my office, and the magic began. Within a few days all of the caterpillars were hanging upside down and turning into chrystalises. I noticed right away that the Queen’s case, although almost identical to the Monarch’s, was smaller and sometimes a cream-pinkish color rather than bright green. All had the distinctive and beautiful gold dots!Ed look!” Suddenly, he was captivated! 

“What are those gold dots for?” He asked.

“Perhaps camouflage, coloring -like many things with these butterflies, science doesn’t really know. An article in Scientific America says, best understood, to transform into a butterfly, a caterpillar first digests itself. But cells called imaginal disks survive, turning the soup into eyes, wings, antennae and other structures. When I look at the gold dots, they seem to line up with designs on the wings. But who knows? “

Ed quietly studied the gold spots and the emerging transformed creature. He like me, was intrigued!

So the original goal, the simple visual difference between the two?

The easiest way to show the basic differences between the Monarch and the Queen is to share some photos. It’s very clear when they are not flying around! Seventeen were born by yesterday, December 30th, 2020: seven Queens and ten Monarchs.

Ed and I released them all and all were healthy. It took about twelve days to witness Nature’s ultimate transformation. Certainly an inspiration for whatever is coming in 2021. Transform we must indeed!

-Queen -Above, newly born Queen. Below, Queen & Monarch chrystalises/markings the same but Queen smaller and sometimes cream in color rather than green-Monarch with one Queen and one Monarch broken casings/Monarch caterpillar gets ready to change -Queen caterpillar (below)-Monarch caterpillar (below) -Monarch more orange (below) -Queen more rust colored (below) -Can you tell the difference between the Queen and Monarch? I bet you can! -Release! Videos Queen opens wings to fly off; mating Monarchs in my yard:

In the Garden of Impatience, SLR/IRL

“Patience is a virtue…” 

Yesterday, I went to my garden. A garden for butterflies that I planted in 2011 during my mayorship for the Town of Sewall’s Point.

It was at this time, that I realized I needed a place to go, close to home, to get away, when I was grinding my teeth so hard at night that I would awake with headaches. This garden has calmed many nerves, and brought both beauty and delight to Ed and my home.

I learn a lot of lessons from my garden. But I still have a lot to learn…

…Upon getting the newspaper from the driveway, I noticed a monarch butterfly that had just emerged from its chrysalis drying its wings on the shrimp plant by my front door. The orange, black, and white pattern against green and red was quite striking. I decided to do something I have never done, watch the butterfly dry its wings, and to wait to watch it fly off.

Every few minutes its stain-glassed wings would open to the sun and wind, and then it would sit motionless. When its wings opened again, I could see its body tighten and contort, pumping liquid deep into its wings. It looked uncomfortable this miraculous metamorphosis. Finally, it seemed erect and proud; I kept waiting for it to fly off, but it didn’t.

I counted the white spots on its wings and body to pass time. I studied its bizarre mouth and antennae. I laid on the ground. I took pictures. I tried to be patient. I thought about all I needed to do. I thought about how I would be breaking a deal with myself ~to see a newborn butterfly fly away, if I walked off.

“Come on butterfly!” I said. “You can do it!” But it did not fly off. It just sat there.

I thought about how in the garden there is no rush, as in my own life, to finish the “task.”  Things take the time needed to take, and that is all…

I waited. I wondered. I wished.

I started to get impatient.

“I can’t believe I am losing my patience with a butterfly,” I thought. “This is not good; my plan is backfiring.”

I took some breaths, calmed myself down, and tried to be like nature. Ever-present. Ever-enduring, patient in my Garden of Impatience…

It did not work. I noticed I was grinding my teeth. ” I’ve got so much to do!” I walked two steps towards the rose-bush, just to regroup, taking my eyes off the butterfly for the very first time… It could not have been more than a second.

When I turned around, the butterfly was gone!

I smiled, in disbelief, thinking for a moment “I can’t believe I wasted all this time,” looking into the sky for fluttering wings, but there were none. There was just the sound of the wind and the warmth of the sun — the eternal.

There is no time wasted in the lessons of nature, I suppose…

I walked back into the house “to get things done.”  🙂

Monarch Butterflies, Florida,IFAS, UF:http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw311