*I “filmed” this through a small hand lens held against my 4 year old iPhone. What I am saying is, I’m sorry if you get motion sick, cannot see anything, or are otherwise less than satisfied. I certainly managed to entertain myself.*
I collected this egg on Saturday. While laying their many eggs, Monarch butterfly ladies fly around landing on plants for a microsecond. What they are doing is smelling the leaves with their feet! If they land on a milkweed, the caterpillar’s only chosen food (gluten free), the female butterfly stays for maybe 2 seconds. It is hard to see anything happening, but afterwards there may be a little tiny yellow dot on the bottom of the leaf! I am pretty sure that I saw the butterfly lay this egg which is just like, I mean I am surprised I am not crying about the beauty of all this lifecycle shizz but it has been a long day.
I spent a lot of time trying to find Monarch eggs when I was a child, and I almost never did. So lets be honest, when I first spotted these I knew one was going to come home with me. Ethical arguments aside, the moments when you know without a doubt just what you are going to do irrelevant of whatever you should do are rare, and we should embrace them.
This morning I noticed that the little egg was no longer yellow, but sort of clear with a black spot on the top. I had already read that this is a sign you should stay home all day and stare at it through your hand lens until nothing happens except your squint lines don’t go away after you stop squinting and you are kind of sweaty.
But then, you know, something happened. Six hours later!
And the baby ate her egg. Some would say this is an argument for eating your placenta. Some would say that is disgusting and not actually the same thing at all. Who am I to judge? She ate all of it and came back looking for more. Very very hungry caterpillar.
This little baby first instar, who will shed her skin 4 times before a final shedding unsheathes a chrysalis, is very delicate. Since she emerged two hours ago I have actually thought I killed her twice with my thumb. Now she is safely in a Mason jar. That’s right everyone, I am raising a hipster butterfly. She is tucked in with a fresh, pesticide free baby Milkweed leaf, from which she will supposedly only eat the hairs. Because the whole leaf is so 2011 to eat and also because the hairs are almost as big as she is, so they are enough.
*update from the future- the hairs were NOT enough, and she ate about three times her body size worth of leaf in a day.*
I hope she lives. The odds would be against her in the wild (even Wild Peace) and I suppose they may even be here #masonjarproblems.
But whatever I’m totally excited. And also I am helping her! Maybe.