Florida Nature Pictures

Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle
Danaus plexippus
(Milkweed Butterfly)

Monarch Butterfly egg
Monarch Butterfly egg

These are the eggs of a Monarch Butterfly found on a Milkweed plant.
They are usually placed on tthe underside of the leaves but can also
be found on the flowers and stems of the plant.

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar
Here is a very young first or second instar
caterpillar.They usually eat under the leaf
at this stage.
Monarch Butterfly Caterpilla
Here is a third or fourth instar caterpillar
that just shed its skin.
They usually eat the skin after shedding it.

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar
Monarch Butterfly Caterpilla

When fully grown, the caterpillars are about 2 inches long and nice and plump.

Monarch Butterfly Caterpilla

I have noticed that they chew at the base of the leaf until the leave just
dangles but is still attached to the stem.
Then they start eating the leaf at they hang from it.
The caterpillar stage lasts around 2 weeks.

Monarch Butterfly Caterpilla

Here is my Monarch Caterpillar is his J formation. He will hang like this for about 24 hours.
Many amazing changes are going on inside!

Monarch Butterfly Pupa
Monarch Butterfly Pupa
Monarch Butterfly Pupa
Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis

At around noon, my caterpillar began his transformation.
First , the caterpillar begins to wiggle alot!
Then, the caterpillar skin breaks open from behind the head.
With some more violent wiggling, the skin gets pushed all the way up to the top
where its hanging from the spun silk threads.
After some more wiggling, the skin drops to the ground.
The pupa appears wet and shiny for a while but soon starts to harden
and become a soft pale green.
They stay in the pupal stage for about 2 weeks.

I actually have a video of the entire process that I am working on to
upload to YouTube!
I will post when I have it ready.

Monarch Butterfly Pupa
Monarch Butterfly Crysallis

These two butterflies did not make it, very sad.
They died before emerging.
There are several bacterial and viral diseases that can cause this.

Monarch Butterfly
Monarch Butterfly
Monarch Butterfly
Monarch Butterfly
Monarch Butterfly

This one emerged but got her abdomen stuck inside the pupa.
She kept struggling but could not get completely out.
I had to assist with some tweezers.
I believe this one is also sick because the abdomen seemed
abnormally large and when I released her,
she would try to fly but kept falling to the ground. 6/11/10

Monarch Butterfly

Here is an adult Monarch laying eggs on the underside of a leaf on a Milkweed plant in my garden.
Needless to say, most of my Milkweeds are just bare stems now!
This particular Milkweed Plant is a
Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavicum).

Monarch Butterfly

How can you not love then though! 6/2010

Monarch Caterpillar
Danaus plexippus

Danaidae Family



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