Posted by: oceannah | July 30, 2012

Milk for Monarchs part Trois (a)

“Animal larvae eventually undergo metamorphosis, a resurgence of development that transforms the animal into a sexually mature adult”  –Biology, – Campbell

So there you have it from one of my favorite texts a simple sentence that lays it out far better than I could have.  My little charge has encased itself in a full cocoon now and hangs in waiting.  While I was outside yesterday I saw this on the underside of the peony though:

monarch cocoon on peony

A ‘wild’ larvae beginning the process of metamorphosis.  This morning I went out to see the progress that was made and found a full cocoon already formed and also hanging in wait.  I now have two wee charges to monitor, although they will be re-‘born’ a few days apart.  This process can take up to two weeks.  I’ll have to pay close attention since one of the main signs is the change of color of the chrysalis from jade green with golden specks to darker brown or orange-ish.

Here are the two side by side, on left is the peony cocoon on right is the mason jar.

I’m pretty excited to have these two side by side comparisons.  At the very least I’ll be able to watch two Monarch butterflies begin their journey.  It turns out that Monarch larvae do not set their cocoons on the milkweed plant and you can see why…there’s nothing left!  Monarch larvae are capable of eating their weight in a day while growing and molting prior to pupating.

What’s left of the milkweed looks a bit like a specimen from Morticia’s garden!

“After several molts, the larva encases itself in a cocoon and becomes a pupa.  Within the pupa, the larval tissues are broken down and the adult is built by the division and differentiation of cells that were quiescent in the larva.  Finally, the adult emerges from the cocoon…” – Biology, Campbell  What Campbell is saying here is that the larva does not turn into a butterfly in some kind of ‘transformer’ type way…more to the point the larva utterly turns to mush, primordial soup so to speak, and from that genetic material the butterfly is constructed.  Is it any wonder the metamorphic process is such a common theme is spiritual circles?  How many people are really ready for that kind of change?!  Am I willing to give up everything known and be turned to genetic soup in the Vita-Mix of life to awaken to transformation?!

I can hardly wait 🙂


Linked with:  Homestead Revival: Barnhop #72


  1. Ack! I was right there with you: up until you mentioned the Vitamix, that is…
    But seriously though? The whole thing is just totally mind boggling. LOVE the little gold dots that mark the cocoon’s “zipper” and how suddenly everything’s transparent – as though with the wave of a magician’s wand – tadaa!!.

    • hahah Deb, it is kind of a grisly image granted, but since I have a vm, and know how they can liquify just about anything well…. I remember gettting the vm and dh said what the heck!! that’s a blender w/ a motor as powerful as the darn lawn mower 🙂

  2. As you will see in my Milkweed and Monarchs episode, which I finally hope to get done this week, the caterpillars have a tendency to attach the undersides of Loree’s lawn furniture! Thanks for the great posts, and I will link to you in my blog posts when I get the episode online. – Kaye

    • I can’t wait Kaye maybe we’ll have some butterflies by then…once you put it up i can also link to you…although I’m not sure how folks do that link at the bottom of the post thingy, do you know how?

  3. Fascinating- I am so glad for your pictures. Real magic.

    • Thanks Mae, glad you are enjoying.

  4. The genetic soup of life. Was it you who recommended me to the book “Dirt?” Fascinating stuff.

    • Yes I did Kaye, so glad you like Dirt. The author was just on npr the other day w/ a new book ‘air’

      • Um, think I missed this earlier… Could you please reiterate (or dish me; ) the details on “Dirt”?

      • Deb, see above reply…it’s a great read…

      • Okay, try as I might, I cannot find the author of the books titled “Dirt” or “Air” on Google or on NPR. Help?


      • Thank you!: )

      • NP Deb, I think you’ll like the book

  5. Great photos Anna! I too think I missed this “Dirt?” discussion I would love to know more too!

  6. I love your question! Well done. I’m glad I won’t have to chose between a fleeting jettison to the next dimension versus a wallow in the divine stew of transformation. Isn’t nature amazing to watch? I sometimes carry a camera just so people won’t think I’m totally bonkers crawling around on the ground.

    • Hahaha…I had to laugh at the image of you inspecting the ground with a camera as cover 🙂 It is a Divine stew, agreed. Thanks for popping in and I appreciate your comment adding to the post.

  7. Too cool, anna!

    • Thanks Amy! Stay tuned.

  8. Fun, I remember doing this, but not with any success…can’t wait for updates!!

    • I hope they both hatch out and fly away for another day and more larva…I’ll keep you posted, thanks for stopping by 🙂

  9. oh what fun. So neat that you found another one like that.

  10. […] Part 3A […]

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