Monarch Butterflies

August and September 2004

Newly emerged female monarch

August 19, 2004 - Female monarch butterfly newly emerged from chrysalis

One evening in August, Kathleen and Alexis brought a bouquet of flowers and a plastic food carton with what looked like a single green grape in it. It was a Monarch butterfly chrysalis...


Kathleen and Alexis collect leaves with eggs and then raise them and give them to teachers so the children can watch the caterpillar transform into a chrysalis then emerge as a butterfly.

Some municipalities have classified milkweeds as pest plants, and destroy them. Milkweed leaves are the only food monarch butterfly larvae eat, making life difficult for this beautiful species.

The adults return to Wisconsin from spending the winter in Mexico, lay several crops of eggs over the summer, then in the fall, the surviving adults migrate to the rainforests in Mexico.

After I released the butterfly, Kathleen brought some milkweed leaves with eggs and tiny caterpillars...


Monarch in the "wild"

Click on the image for a larger view

August 26, 2004 - I spotted the butterfly above on the east side of the Midwest Express Center, 4th Street between Wisconsin and Wells. I am not sure what species the plant is, but the butterfly returned several times to sip the nectar. I spotted another one flying on the lower east side in the evening. I found a third one on the sidewalk near MSOE on a cold afternoon at the end of the season. It was near death, wings scuffed. These were the only monarchs I saw besides the ones I raised in captivity. But, between the six individuals, I witnessed the entire life cycle.

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