A Special Monarch Butterfly
Penny spent a lot of time studying the Monarchs in her garden. She watched the monarchs lay eggs, caterpillars grow from one instar to the next but when they crawled off to form their chrysalis she never could find them. Since she wanted to observe the entire life cycle she decided to grab a few fat caterpillars when she saw them crawling away from the milkweed and put them in her habitat cage. She was then able to watch up close how it formed its chrysalis and also see it eclose from the chrysalis 8 to 12 days later. The following two photos are hers that she took of the monarch in action.
Have you ever found a butterfly with deformed wings in your garden? There are several reasons this can occur. It could be that the butterfly falls to the ground while its wings are wet and they become damaged. Sometimes butterflies don't have enough room to fully spread their wings during this critical time or the butterfly may have a defect which prevents the wings from opening properly. Crinkled wings is one of the signs of O.E. (Ophryocystis elektroscirrha), a protozoan parasite that infects Monarchs all over the world. I wrote a post about this last year, O.E. and Monarch Conservation. You can read it here.
What would you do if you found a butterfly that had deformed wings? Well, my friend, Penny found a special Monarch in her garden and being the kind soul that she is she brought him inside. She knew that he wouldn't survive on his own. Without the ability to fly properly, and since it was early December and the temperatures were dropping, his hours were numbered.
Penny kept him in a temperature controlled patio where he could rest comfortably. He would flap his wings to get around and crawl on the floor. He had a favorite corner he would go to and let the sun shine down on him through the floor to ceiling windows. Penny's pet monarch lived for a good 6 weeks but then his time had come. Thanks to Penny's tender heart and devotion he had a great life considering his circumstances. In addition it was an enthralling learning experience and I am so glad that she was able to share it with me.