Adult Butterfly: A time of fruition; A rebirth.

The Egg: Germ of a new life.

Caterpillar: A time of growth

Chrysalis: A time of change.

Monarch EggCaterpillarChrysalisButterflyCecropia MothCecropia LarvaeCocoonCecropia AdultA Story of SamPolyphemus MothVideosSmall Wonders


Marvel at a monarch butterfly emerging from its chrysalis

Watch the "shockwave" slide show  by clicking on either "emergence" picture below.

View  more  indepth "shockwave"  picture presentations showing detail within a complete metamorphosis.  Click on a link below.

Watch as a caterpillar is seen developing within its egg, hatches, and eats the egg shell.

See a caterpillar preparing for pupation. After a silk anchor is completed the larvae crawls forward midway, turns around, finds and securely attaches its hind claspers. Then the insect proceeds to slowly release and hang head downwards.

A caterpillar to chrysalis transformation. The larvae sheds its skin to reveal a wet gyrating chrysalis. The pupae must transfer its hold to its cremaster and drop the old larval skin. The chrysalis gradually assumes its predestined shape and hardens into an imobile waxy pupae.

Chrysalis emergence as a transformed butterfly is indeed one of the wonders of nature. View a butterfly breaking free of the pupae, expanding and drying its wings.

Watch the emerging butterfly push out of the chrysalis, expand its wings and  prepare for flight.

Study a frame by frame butterfly emergence sequence as it completes the life cycle metamorphosis. Though commonplace, the event itself leaves one full of wonder at how such an evolved set of happenings is possible or, indeed, came to be. To see twenty full size photos Click on an image below. This will start a slide show from the picture you selected.  "Forward", "Back" and "up" navigation appears under each image.
2. Butterfly emerge 4 web.jpg 8. Butterfly emerge 4 web.jpg 11. Butterfly emerge 4 web.jpg

24. Butterfly emerge 4 web.jpg

46. Butterfly adult female 1.jpg
Butterfly_emerge_9 cropped.jpg The monarch butterfly has just finished drying its wings and is prepared for its very different life on the wing. Click on the photos and you will see a larger image. Butterfly_emerge_10 cropped.jpg

More Detailed Observations

Look closely and you will see the butterfly's tongue consists of two halves. One of the many feats the emerging monarch must perform is aligning the separate parts into one functioning whole.

Compare the two chrysalids of the male and female monarch butterfly below. Do you see a difference in the thickness of the wing veins of the butterfly within? Click on the images for a larger view.

Chrysalis female 4 cropped.jpg

Butterfly adult female cropped.jpg

These female and male butterflies came from the chrysalids to their left. Females have thicker veins, males exhibit hind wing scent patches.

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butterfly adult male cropped.jpg

Every Fall monarch butterflies migrate south some two thousand miles from Canada, across the United States and on into Mexico. PBS Television's award winning "Nova" series has a show featuring monarch butterfly migration. Titled " The Incredible Journey Of The Butterflies", this 43 minute long video introduces,"One of the most profound mysteries...a feat of navigation and endurance unlike anything else in the natural world". See:

Monarch butterflies ( Danaus plexippus) are well known for their long annual migrations. Taging and research projects are going on to help us understand more. People of all ages find beauty in the contrasting colors seen in the caterpillar, chrysalis and adult form of this insect. Though we find this pleasurable these vivid patterns are the result of a long-term successful survival strategy. Both caterpillar and adult butterfly show off their presence to would be predators. The colors serve as a warning that the monarch is very bitter tasting. The beautiful green color of the pupae serves as camouflage among the green milkweed leaves. This diet of milkweed is what gives the monarch its bitter taste.

Much more is written about monarchs. They are a popular subject for study. Links to more sites on this species are found below.

Here is a video I found on yutube. This shows nicely the differencess and similiarities between an Asian species which appears to be in the same genus and the monarch itself.


Monarch EggCaterpillarChrysalisButterflyCecropia MothCecropia LarvaeCocoonCecropia AdultA Story of SamPolyphemus MothVideosSmall Wonders

There are many kinds of butterflies. Some can be found together in places like gardens and beaches.

Here is a different way of collecting butterflies. The insects were photographed on beaches in Minnesota and Kentucky.  Single pictures were  put together into this set of photos called a collage. Species include: tortoise shell and Monarch butterflies along with Tiger (yellow & dark morph), Black and pipevine swallowtails.

Continue scrolling down for more website links and facts.

To learn more about the natural world and get ideas for school projects, the following links to other websites may be of service.

Elementary school students may find many useful learning aids in the “Enchanted Learning” program at

Kidzone is an excellent site for learning. Check out the monarch butterfly page and link to activities and other subjects.

Teachers may find this site of interest. Many learning activities are included in study guides.

This site sells monarch eggs, caterpillars and chrysalides. It is an easy way to see for yourself the marvel of metamorphosis.

More advanced studies on migration, population, ecology, conservation and more can be found below.

A global study of wildlife migration and global change is presented in this very useful site.

“While "navigation" systems in automobiles are a fairly new (and still costly) innovation, monarch butterflies have managed for millennia to navigate their way for a distance of some 3000 miles (4800 kilometers) each fall from Canada to Mexico (and vice-versa in the spring) without losing their way. “ Search latest studies on how the monarch navigates its migration route.

Learn about the University of  Kansas “Monarch Watch” Find the latest on migration, tagging and present population trends.

>See amazing results and facts surrounding the Monarch lifecycle.

For a general description of of the monarch butterfly and its complete life cycle click here

>Find out about Monarch tagging, tracking and current research on the complete life cycle. Click here.
>What you can do. A site of ideas for teachers and students exploring the world of  Monarch butterflies.
>A butterfly life cycle for kids. Children are drawn into the natural world around them.

Metamorphosis as metaphor? Click on the picture below to see how we, as humans, are going through a global spiritual metamorphosis.

For a slideshow showing the growth of a parrot chick from a fuzzy little baby into a three foot adult macaw with brilliant red, blue, yellow and green feathers; please link here. Be sure to scroll down the page to find the show

For a wide variety and deeper perspectives involving  challenging issues facing a world caught up in the man-made maelstrom of social nearsightedness, distrust, misunderstanding and misinterpretation; link to >positive answers and "the Case For World Unity"

For a look at how we are continually exploiting the Earth and the need to change our lifestyles so our children's children may see the wonders of nature visit "unsustainable Lifestyles, Is the cost to the future for the present to high?" at

The Egg: Germ of a new life.

Caterpillar: A time of growth

Chrysalis: A time of change.

Monarch EggCaterpillarChrysalisButterflyCecropia MothCecropia LarvaeCocoonCecropia AdultA Story of SamPolyphemus MothVideosSmall Wonders