It’s a Girl!


Yes, I raised a girl. At our Lewiston GardenFest, I purchased a caterpillar Monarch to raise and release in my garden. That was June 19th.

I took photos of the caterpillar, but must have erased them from the camera before I downloaded them. So no cute, little caterpillar photos.

How I got the photos was my little bundle of joy was an escape artist and found a way out of the netting. I caught her on the outside of the netting and carefully returned her to the Swamp milkweed plant inside the enclosure. She was a caterpillar for only two days of the time I had her. She spun a silk pad on which to hang and split open to reveal the chrysalis she would inhabit. I missed that process unfortunately as it happened after the sun went down.


During the evening she became a chrysalis, and a few mornings later from the liquid inside, you could just barely see the formation of wings starting to develop.


This image above and below was a few days later with wings almost completely formed. By the next morning, June 29 th., she was out flapping around inside the netting. I so wanted to see her emerge, but forgot about her after taking the chrysalis photos.


I really am losing my edge. I know previously, I would have made sure to sit and watch.


She was raised on Asclepias incarnata, like above, her little chrysalis hanging from a leaf. The orange butterfly weed below was where I set her free in the garden.


I decided since it was a bright sunny day with no breeze toย release her to the flower-filled garden. She made a few passes to various flowers, then settled on the daylily bud to warm her wings.

She did scare me twice by clumsily flying off across the street, circling back to return to the garden both times. I did not want her plastered on a passing car windshield or flattened on the parkway.

By 1pm, she was gone, maybe on her way to Canada, or so I would like to think.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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40 Responses to It’s a Girl!

  1. Wow I’ve never seen the development like this! I’m sure your baby is just fine.

  2. alesiablogs says:

    Isn’t the garden the most beautiful place. It brings life and shows us the complexity of so much for us to think about. Yet – the simplicity of what and who we are is wrapped up in the fact we go back to the ground. All of us ..ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Yet we have the beautiful garden and a gorgeous butterfly to remind us of so much. It’s a true miracle

  3. David says:

    Nice series of photos and congratulations. Hopefully you’ll have some grandchildren to enjoy.

  4. Karen says:

    What a wonderful experience. I’ve seen a few swallowtails in the garden earlier this spring, but not many monarchs. I do hope she is on her way to Canada.

  5. A.M.B. says:

    How exciting! She’s a lucky girl to be released into such a beautiful garden. The photographs are stunning.

  6. zooperson says:

    Your garden was the perfect, beautiful place to start her journey.

  7. lucindalines says:

    Wow what an amazing experience even if you didn’t get all of it on camera.

  8. swo8 says:

    Thanks for sharing Donna, I think she is here, safe and sound.

  9. What a gorgeous idea to take one of these caterpillars to your own garden to follow up the next steps (transformation into a stunning chrysalis or does one say cocoon?) and to get an idea of the impressive development!I love to see the monarch already inside this cocoon, Donna! Your photos are great!
    Well and then your beautiful “lady” monarch appeared and could enjoy your colorful and blossomy garden! At least for somes minutes. :-)) Might she have a save and nice flight to Canada now. Do you think your could recognize her should she ever come back to your garden? (I’m just kidding, but one never knows … ^^)

    • Thank you. No, I could not tell them apart, only males from females. I was sure you knew that too. It was fun raising her. I just was so busy, i could not follow as well as I should.

  10. Wonderful! Sad to say, I have yet to see a Monarch cat on all our Milkweed. Though we do see the adult butterflies. Haven’t seen any this year, though.

  11. Congratulations! She’s a beauty–nearly perfect. ๐Ÿ™‚ The Monarchs are here in my area, but I haven’t had any in my garden yet (well, I was gone for 10 days, so they may have been here while I was gone). You have a perfect habitat for Monarchs and other butterflies with all your host plants and nectar plants. They seem to like it here, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Victor Ho says:

    Great images. Is that pattern of spots unique? Like snowflakes are different. Would you know her if she came back? I’ve never seen them develop. That’s wonderful. I loved them growing up in WV and never appreciated how fragile the environment and the arduous journey they make.

    • They all look the same to me. I guess there are subtle differences, I never really thought about it. No, she is long gone and I can only hope here offspring swings by. They do migrate far and encounter much to impede there travel, like bad weather.

  13. Andrea says:

    That i bet is a lovely experience, raising a butterfly. We have lots of butterflies in the garden so raising them inside seems not necessary. However, i cannot follow them for fotos with my limited time at home. By the way, you are expecting it to have laid eggs in your garden plants, but how can that be when it has mated with someone while it was there!

    • Andrea says:

      i mean it has not mated with someone while it was in your garden!

      • My garden gets a number of butterflies each year, but Monarchs are declining in numbers. While there is no reason for me to raise just one, where I bought the caterpillar was at Eastern Monarch Butterfly Farm here in WNY. They raise them for conservation and release. I am not expecting it to lay eggs in my garden because it left the garden after being newly formed as a butterfly and within five hours. I was joking she would be laying eggs in Canada not here, but likely that is true. Her only job is to reproduce.

  14. Wow! That’s so cool! And fantastic photos!

  15. rose says:

    This has to be one of the most amazing miracles of nature–wonderful photos! I rarely see the caterpillars here and have never seen a chrysalis in my garden, but I did see my first adult Monarch this week–a male, though.

    • Thank you, Rose. I photographed the pupa once before and it was closer to emergence than this one. Every time I photograph a caterpillar I seem to forget about it and format the card. Good you saw a Monarch. Every one that hatches is so important. Hope that male does his duty.

  16. Indie says:

    Beautiful! I love seeing the pictures of the chrysalis with the wings showing through. I just saw a monarch here in my garden a couple days ago. It’s only the second monarch butterfly I’ve seen in the three years I’ve lived up in Massachusetts, so I was very excited. It was also a girl, so I’m crossing my fingers for babies!

    • I hope she gives your milkweed lots of eggs. It is sad what happened due to weather this past migration. I believe that is the new norm though. With climate change, many insects are moving to locations and elevations not previously found. It might surprise us northward to see insects not seen here before.

  17. Wonderful series of photos!

  18. Beautiful photos! Your little girl is fine! She stopped at my house on the other end of the Lake!

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