Jade green Monarch chrysalids dangle from the backyard plants, windowsills and even the barbecue. Anne and I wait with great anticipation for ten days to pass to see these orange beauties rupture from their diaphanous sheaths.
We know this is about to happen when the chrysalis begins to turn black. Within 24 hours, a new life will join the natural world. The emergence happens in seconds. The protective sheath splits open, birthing fluid gushes out, and a wet, black bodied wrinkle-winged creature appears.
The newborn hangs to help internal fluids to flow into the veined wings. The butterfly pumps its wings open and close, open and close. With each action the wings inflate progressively more and we begin to see an insect that is pristine, brilliant and flawless. Still wet from birth, it spreads out its wings under the summer sun to dry them off. We are even able to determine its sex. Males have a distinctive black spot on their hind wings that the females lack.
After a couple of hours, the new butterfly flaps its wings, lifts up and floats on a gentle breeze out of sight to begin its new life. Anne and I are deeply satisfied that we have helped this species recover with the planting of our milkweed garden.