Our pet caterpillars

This spring, we bought our first milkweed to create a natural butterfly habitat.  Milkweed is the host plant for monarchs, and ours came with a tiny caterpillar.  Watching the transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis to a beautiful butterfly was awesome!!


This is Day 1.  It got windy at night, so we kept the milkweed plant inside.


Day 2.  So cute!


Day 3.


Day 4.


Day 5.


Day 6:  The caterpillar stopped eating and was hanging by its back legs.  In fact, it did not move for several hours, and I thought it was dead.  This turned out to be part of the molting process, and afterward, the caterpillar ate every drop of its old skin.



Day 7:  On the move again for more food.


Day 8:  It is over 2.5″ long!  I placed the milkweed in a large collapsible mesh laundry hamper so that when it was ready to pupate, we would have it in a safe container.


Day 12.


A few days later, the caterpillar crawled off the plant…


…to the top of the lid.

Another couple days later, it formed into a “J” shape.  I didn’t take any good pictures of this stage because I didn’t want to unzip the lid and interfere with this magical transformation taking place.


About 2 weeks later, a beautiful butterfly emerged.

butterfly boy

The two black dots in the lower wings indicate that this butterfly is a male.  We released him in the afternoon.

2015-04-04 IMG_3570 (3)

This is our second caterpillar.


This one decided to pupate on the plant, so it was easier to photograph the chrysalis.  The jade coloring is beautiful with gold specks.


The case becomes clear when the butterfly is ready to emerge.


This one looks like a female, but I can’t tell with the wings closed.

I found this cool time lapse video showing chrysalis and emerging butterfly.  This one is a male because there are two black dots on the lower part of its wings, at 2.22.  It’s fun identifying monarch gender!