WooHoo, I am now in posession of a monarch butterfly caterpillar. Thanks to my colleague, Linda, I have a cute little guy whose name is Murray. Linda gave me enough milkweed plants and several jars + instructions to raise the critter. I have to keep the milkweed damp and cool (in the frig- wait ’till Helene hears about this.)
I will attempt to raise Murray and photograph the process. He will go from caterpillar (larva) to crysalis (pupa) to adult. Once Murray becomes a pupa he will take 10-14 days to emerge as an adult.
There are several stages for the larva -> pupa -> adult and a number are very short. It may well be a matter of luck to see each stage. Also, individual larva may not survive (but Murray is strong, I can tell).
After a day, I will let Murray out into the garden to feast on the nectar of flowers before he flies off to Mexico (where he and his friends spend the winter). Eastern Monarchs are snow-birds who travel to the Sierra Madre Mountains. I already feel a kinship to Murray – do you think they have early-bird specials in Mexico? (oops, I probably should not have mentioned birds to Murray). BTW, Monarchs from Western North America overwinter in California.
Image of the pupa and adult came from the US Fish and Wildlife Service web site.