The Monarch Butterfly
It is hard to believe the beautiful monarch butterfly is considered an insect. This graceful butterfly gains its name because it’s considered the “king” of butterflies for its beauty. The monarch butterfly goes through four stages in one cycle.
The monarch butterfly relies on milkweed for feeding and reproduction. In February and March, this royal beauty comes out of hibernation to find a mate. Then they fly north and east to lay their eggs. In March and April, the eggs are then laid on milkweed plants. They hatch into a baby caterpillar and do nothing more than eat milkweed to further their transformation to begin the first generation. It takes about two weeks to become fully grown. Then, it attaches itself to a leaf or stem to start the process of metamorphosis. It transforms into a chrysalis, meaning the hardened shell of pupa, a cocoon.
During this time of chrysalis, about 10 days, the rapid change is undergoing a complete metamorphosis creating the first generation of the monarch butterfly.
The first generation will die in two to six weeks after leaving eggs for the second generation which occur in May and June. The third generation will occur in July and August. The fourth generation occurs in September and October, but differs from the first three generations—it does not die after two weeks. The fourth generation of this king of butterflies continues to live, creating a monarch of royalty and beauty.