Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Monarch In My Window

Danaus plexippus is indeed perplexing down here in the tropics. Monarch butterflies are generally migratory, but it seems, as happens with many tourists, that once they get down here, they have a Jimmy Buffett moment and can't be bothered to leave. Too much sun, too many mojitos. It happens.

I decided, after Irma's wrath leveled my garden, to plant more butterfly-friendly things. Of course milkweed was purchased and planted up.

Sure enough, two caterpillars appeared a week or so later. They grew through all 5 of their instars, then high-tailed it away from the milkweed at a seemingly impossible pace, toward my house! I do not know what happened to one of them, it was too fast, but the other decided to pupate on my screen door, and on the inside, too.
I named it Hebert, after the Hebert Box that Hurricane Irma so obligingly zoomed through on its way to us. You can consult the Mighty Google if you want more info on the Box. Several weeks went by, as did several cold fronts. Hebert was protected inside the screen and by doing so, stayed warm enough to live. This morning, the chrysalis blackened, and when I returned home from an errand, I saw this:
Wow! The wing pattern was female, so I had to change her name to Heberta. She crawled right up the screen until she found the handle, and used her tiny claws to cling upside down and let her wings unfurl and dry for exactly two hours.
I was worried she'd fly into the house, but a few gentle maneuvers as she began to flap ensured that she was able to zip away into the garden. What a beautiful morning! I finished a butterfly painting just in time for Heberta's rebirth:
I kinda miss her now!

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