Monarch butterfly : feeding
Monarch butterfly sucking out sweet juices from ripe watermelon before I released them in the wild today.
This is the first time I raised monarch butterfly in a larger number. I started collecting eggs ovideposited by an egg-laying female monarch from crown flower leaves ( Calotropis gigantea ), Normally used as flowers for lei making here in Hawaii, but it is an equivalent to milkweed plants found in the mainland, USA. Monarch eggs are so tiny that it looks like a tiny half football shaped egg, it starts out pale yellow to yellowish, then almost dark grey when ready to hatch.
it usually takes 3-4 days for the monarch eggs to hatch, larvae then starts to crawl their way to a fresh crown flower leaves, the host plant for the monarch butterflies here in Hawaii. they eat, and eat and eat until they turn very fat, cute and super plump. oh I don’t want to forget they poop and make more poop, that looks like green peppercorn. I can tell you I had to empty the container 3 x a day so the caterpillars won’t crawl in their feces. they probably eat and poop for about 4-5 days to my estimate, and then they started crawling all over the place ( this time they have to be in a screen cage ), and then they stop dead, turn upside down in a “J” position, eventually shed off that pretty yellow-white-green-black stripes, and chrysalis forms…..I have not seen it happen because it will take all day or all night for the process to happen. The chrysalis then will stay green for 5-6 days, and then on the night of the 6th day, the color change into deep brown to black, and usually it occurs in the early morning, the monarch butterfly emerged out of its cocoon. it is such a beautiful site, I will probably will never get tired of it.
It takes at least another 2-4 hours for the wings to dry out, then they start flapping out and ready to get released. Now in my yard, I don’t have much butterfly nectar plants yet, so what I usually do is give them sugar water, later I found out they like ripe fruits like bananas, oranges, peaches, and watermelons….they like it so much that for some reason, as soon as I enter my 12 ft. by 5 ft. Butterfly house with watermelon on hand, they fly to it immediately!! but today, the weather is perfect, sunny, not too much wind, no rain threatening to pour down, so I released my lovely monarchs out, it is such a poignant feeling to see them go, but I am happy that they made it okay because I helped them out 🙂