Caterpillar to Chrysalis

Queen Butterfly caterpillars are eating their way through the leaves on the milkweed plants in my yard.  This is just fine by me.  While I’ve been hoping for some Monarch Butterfly caterpillars to do the same, I have yet to see any.  As far as the Queen caterpillars go, several have already morphed into butterflies as, evidenced by the chrysalis skeletons left behind, while others have only just started.  Here’s a short video I made of the metamorphosis process at normal speed, from caterpillar to chrysalis:

Queen Butterfly chrysalis. Copyright: Greg Joder.

In this video I speed up the 45 minute process to two minutes:

caterpillar ~ chrysalis ~ butterfly

The queen butterfly chrysalis that I’ve been watching went through another stage of metamorphosis this morning (video below).

Queen butterfly chrysalis. Copyright: Greg Joder.
Queen butterfly chrysalis. Copyright: Greg Joder.

This time from chrysalis (pupa) to butterfly. It took 9 days for the chrysalis to go through the cell growth and differentiation to become an adult butterfly. Visually, we can see the morphological changes which is magical in itself.  What we can’t see are the changes the insect goes through on a cellular level, from larva to pupa and pupa to butterfly. The next photo, taken late at night before the complete metamorphosis, shows the chrysalis clearing to reveal the nearly developed adult butterfly.  The video of the whole process follows.

Chrysalis metamorphosis. Copyright: Greg Joder.
Chrysalis metamorphosis. Copyright: Greg Joder.

Watching this process I’ve been wondering if the ‘mind’ of the insect remains intact through the whole process: did it know it was a caterpillar, then a chrysalis before becoming a butterfly? Please watch the following video in HD and full screen for best detail.  To see the butterfly emerge from the chrysalis, skip to the 4:00 minute mark.

Adult butterfly emerges from its chrysalis. Copyright: Greg Joder.
Adult butterfly emerges from its chrysalis. Copyright: Greg Joder.