Monarch Caterpillars make their chrysalises!

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The next big step for any Monarch caterpillar is to pupate!  That’s when it turns from a caterpillar into a chrysalis.  I was blessed to be around when one of the caterpillars pupated, but he was sneaky so I only managed to capture a before and after rather than a “during” …maybe next time.  (if you missed my earlier posts, you can see the caterpillars when they were tiny, and the caterpillars when they’d grown bigger).

For purposes of disclosure, I should mention that I rehung most of the chrysalises… they were either on tin foil that I secured to the twig, or tied up there with dental floss.  I did a bit of research beforehand so as to avoid damaging the creatures, don’t worry.  But I wanted to let you know because these photos have been photoshopped — to remove the unsightly dental floss, tin foil, etc.  I did my best to give an accurate rendering and not depart from reality.  Maybe next time I’ll be brave enough to try the super glue method!

Anyways, enjoy these macro photographs of the Monarch caterpillar and Monarch chrysalises.  They are really amazing to look at close up… and I just today learned that you can tell whether a butterfly is male or female while it’s in its chrysalis.  There is a little seam at near those black dots at the top of the chrysalis.  Very interesting!  Maybe next time around I’ll know to photograph… 🙂  …hindsight is 20/20, huh?

monarch caterpillar pupating, monarch chrysalis chrysalises, nature photography macro photo
Some of the monarch caterpillars had already pupated, but one hadn’t yet.
monarch caterpillar pupating, nature photographer
This monarch caterpillar is in a “J” shape because it’s beginning to pupate. I learned (from my first grader’s book) that they make this “J” shape when they’re beginning to make the first transformation.
caterpillar pupating, monarch caterpillar, monarch chrysalis
Another photo of the caterpillar pupating with the chrysalises.
monarch chrysalises hanging on stick with pupating caterpillar, nature photographer michigan
As you can see, we had a number of chrysalises that formed at the same time.
pupating monarch caterpillar, nature macro photography
I really enjoyed getting to see this phase of the monarch butterfly life cycle. It’s not often that you get to observe the process from start to finish… usually those caterpillars are pretty sneaky and do their transforming when you’re not looking!
monarch caterpillar pupating, macro nature photography
I changed up the lighting a little bit for this one. Look at all the detail…. so amazing!
pupating monarch caterpillar, macro nature photo
Okay, this is the last one of the pupating caterpillar, I promise. We’ll move onto some close ups of the chrysalises next.
newly formed monarch chrysalis, just pupated, macro nature photography
That little guy from the previous photos? Well, I looked away for maybe ten minutes, and he (she?) had pupated. This is a VERY newly formed chrysalis. Once you scroll further down, you’ll see what I mean…
newly formed chrysalis, monarch chrysalis, macro nature photo
Another one of the newly pupated chrysalis. It’s so bumpy and shiny!
newly pupated monarch chrysalis, macro photography
It’s really tough to convey a sense of how shiny these things are, but I was finally able to manipulate my lighting just right to create this photo. Can you see the shape of the wings on the chrysalis? So cool!
monarch butterfly chrysalis, macro nature photo
Okay, now here’s a chrysalis that formed earlier. See how much smoother it is? You can still make out the shape of the butterfly wing, but it’s much more streamlined
monarch chrysalis, translucent
I took this photo because the little metallic flecks on the chrysalis are mesmerizing. Based on the research I did, people aren’t sure what those flecks are for. You can also see the semi-translucent nature of the chrysalis is in this photo as well.
monarch caterpillar pupated, macro nature photography
I thought this monarch chrysalis was very interesting. The caterpillar pupated on a leaf that had been resting on the “ground” of its hotel. I attached it to the stick so it could develop properly. But the reason I found it interesting is how you can still see part of the caterpillar outside the chrysallis. I really don’t know the technical term for this, my apologies.
monarch caterpillar pupated into chrysalis, macro chrysalis photo
Here’s another photo of the same chrysalis, it’s crazy detailed. I really found this to be amazing! If you can explain the science to me, I’d definitely be interested ;).
monarch caterpillar pupated chrysalis, macro chrysalis photo
Yes, one last one of the same chrysalis. I thought it was that interesting.
monarch chrysalis, nature photo macro photograph
Here’s a photo of a different monarch chrysalis from a different angle. You can’t really see the line of metallic flecks on this side. As I discovered later in their life cycle, this is the side of the chrysalis that will split open. Pretty neat.
monarch chrysalis, macro photograph
Another view of those cool metallic dots on the chrysalis. You can also see that part of the chrysalis is darker inside …very interesting.
monarch caterpillars, macro photo
All the chrysalises, lined up in a row. In case you’re wondering, no, nature wasn’t this organized. I transferred all of the chrysalises to this stick — the caterpillars had used their silk to attach to the aluminum foil lid of their hotel, and I cut it up into strips before wrapping it around the stick. For the photos, I did touch it out….
monarch chrysalises hanging on a branch., macro photo
And one final picture of the chrysalises. I thought this one was particularly neat because it really highlights that newly formed chrysalis and how it stands out from the others that have been hanging there for longer.

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