Our hatchlings are now around one week old. They are technically "first instars," which means they have not yet molted. According to Monarch Watch, they will go through five instar stages before they pupate.
You can also see the beginnings of their tentacles at both ends. As the caterpillars get larger, the tentacles will become dramatic, and look like antennae. In fact, the caterpillars have antennae, but they are extremely small, and located on either side of their mouths. At Archie's Garden, we don't (yet) have the means of photographing anything so small, but there's a good diagram, also at Monarch Watch.
Come visit again soon, and we'll keep updating this page with the latest goings-on from Archie's Garden!
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
It's been a relatively warm week in Archie's Garden, with a few days reaching the mid 70s (~22 degrees C). The flowers are blooming, and the bees are buzzing ... and one of the monarch eggs has hatched!
The caterpillar is still very small. In the picture below, you can see a size comparison with an aphid (look for the aphid lurking in the shadows over on the left side).
Saturday, January 15, 2011
These particular eggs, located in Archie's Garden (in Mar Vista, California), were laid on January 15th, 2011 (see the slideshow). If all goes well, they will hatch in four or five days, and striped caterpillars will emerge. Over the following two weeks, those caterpillars will grow, molt, grow some more, molt again, and so on. If they avoid being eaten by birds or being done in by predatory wasps, they will be ready for the next stage, and they will go through another transformation. They will pupate, and each occupy a shell-like container called a chrysalis. Another ten days will pass, and they will emerge -- butterflies!
This complicated month-long process itself is only half of the story. As butterflies, they may stay in the area, or may go off on hundred-mile migrations.
Come visit us here at Archie's Garden to watch the unfolding of this dramatic story, and learn more about Monarch Butterflies and other insects, organic gardening, plants, and more!