Sunday, April 13, 2008

The King of Butterflies

Darn, I wanted to talk about butterflies over on Kym's Blog Well, maybe it’s too late. So I’ll do it here. It must be springtime, everybody is blogging about birds, bee's, flowers, and butterflies.

When I was a kid, my sister and I and the other kids around Laytonville would go down into the field across from the house and collect Monarch Butterfly larva. (In late July to early August) Then we would pick some of the milkweed that they ate and we kept it in the refrigerator to feed them. After they got plump enough they would attach themselves to the lid of the shoebox that we kept them in. After they all wriggled out of their skins and became chrysalises we would hang the lid above a newspaper and wait for them to hatch. The newspaper is because the first thing that they do after they hatch, is get rid of the runny excrement that they have been holding.

Monarchs eat milkweed, which is highly toxic to other critters. That works to their advantage, because it makes the butterfly toxic, and no bird will even try to eat them. Birds know instinctively that the butterfly can't be eaten.

We called them Monarch Butterflies, so do the newcomers, and even the newest newcomers call them that. Finally, something that we can agree on!

We would know when they were about to hatch, because the beautiful lime green chrysalises with a little row of gold spots that look like miniature buttons would turn black and orange, and the shell would turn transparent so you could see the mature butterfly inside.

They are head down in their chrysalises, and when the side splits open they rotate out and hang from the shell, head up. They swing gently back and forth while their wings fill, expand and harden, then they drop loose and gently fly away just like they knew what they were doing. That always amazed me that they already knew how to fly, without being taught. They are one of nature’s true “naturals”.

Of course I taught my daughter how to raise butterflies, and she taught her kids. So we have seven generations of Monarch Butterfly farmers in the family. I don’t know if it is legal to do that anymore. Does anybody know???

Please click on this MOST interesting web site and all the other links that they have provided. It's writen for kids so even I can understand it. Monarch Butterflies

1 comment:

Kym said...

The little buttons on the chrysalises are incredibly charming--almost dignified like a military uniform but delicate like jewelry.