Monarchs reign at butterfly ranch

Kid1 and Kid2, mostly Kid2, are ranchers. They gather crown flower leaves from around the neighborhood that have the added bonus of Monarch butterfly eggs on their undersides. Soon, the tiny caterpillars emerge, too small for my Mama eyes to see, and they eat the milky leaves voraciously. It is their job. At the bottom of the butterfly chamber, which is a cylinder of netting and plastic, lies a compost heap of stems and poop.

A brand new Monarch butterfly clings to a companion's chrysalis.
A brand new Monarch butterfly clings to a companion's chrysalis.

As we kept adding leaves, we kept getting more eggs and more caterpillars. At the moment, we have nearly 20 chrysalises hanging from the top of the chamber. Today we watched as  one wriggled out of its skin to reveal a beautiful jade green shell in which it will change from one creature to another.

What an opportunity! To change who we are — a fat and fuzzy caterpillar hellbent on stuffing one’s face — into a Monarch butterfly, delicate leg threads, inquisitive antennae, slowly flapping our powdery wings that closely resemble a Siberian tiger’s stripes.

When that first Monarch wriggled out of its chrysalis, we stared in awe as it clung to its neighbor, still deep in its sleep. DH offered it his finger and the delicate insect grabbed hold, seemingly aware that he would take it out of the chamber and to someplace safe in the world, in our yard, on our orange tree. It rested there for a few hours.

The first Monarch butterfly rests on the orange tree.
The first Monarch butterfly rests on the orange tree.

Kid2, our 7-year-old entomologist, has done extensive research on this species and proudly announced that the butterfly was a boy. The girls had named him Mr. Big when he was a fuzzy, fat, furious eater. Now so handsome and free, where will he go, what will he see?

By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.


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