This year we focused our gardening efforts on planting for pollinators. Butterflies, moths, bees and hummingbirds have come out in full force.
I noticed a few Monarch chrysalis around the deck. Hanging from the birdfeeders, under cushions, all sorts of awkward spots.
Have you ever seen a Monarch chrysalis? There are little golden dots and a magic sparking gold seam on them. I had no idea what I was looking at the first time I saw one. They are so beautiful, almost otherworldly.
I also spied Monarch caterpillars everywhere. After a bit of reading I thought I'd try my hand at raising a few butterflies. I'd never done that as a kid and I thought it was about time to change that!
I brought three fat caterpillars (and a whole bunch of fresh juicy milkweed) inside and placed them in a small aquarium. They ate so much and they pooped even more. Seriously. SO. MUCH. POOP.
After only a few days my caterpillars did their thing and became chrysalis. Next, the wait.
The chrysalis darkens as it changes, turning almost black. The day the butterfly emerges you can actually see the butterfly wings through the outer shell!
I was lucky to see the first butterfly slip out of the skin and watch as her wings unfurled and spread. I wasn't quick enough to film the magic moment, but it was rather lovely.
The first butterfly emerged on Friday the 13th so I named her Jason.
Within a few days the two others emerged too.
Two of my girls flew off as soon I placed them in the garden, but this one took her time and posed very nicely for me.
We had a nice long good-bye before she set out on her adventure.
So now I'm even more mad for those fluttery things. Next year I'll raise skads more, despite the massive amounts of caterpillar poop. To tide me over I'm going to plonk even more paper butterflies on my projects so I've put together a new collage sheet for just that.
I've also made the sheet available in different colours and sizes because you never know when you'll need a sheet of violet hued butterflies.
If you've ever thought of raising butterflies, I highly recommend it. Seeing their transformation was absolutely moving. Setting them free was totally rewarding.
But don't say I didn't warn you about THE COPIOUS CATERPILLAR POO!