This article was written by Ana Elena Ponce, from avanzado 2.
Last year I was shown one of the most breathtaking creations of nature: the metamorphosis of the Danaus plexippus, well-known as the “Monarch butterfly”.
It all starts with the colourful Asclepias curassavica. This flower is the only one chosen by Monarch butterflies to lay their white little eggs. It takes them a week to develop and hatch into a larva. Then, it starts to eat the flowers and leaves of the plant. As days goes by you can appreciate how the plant gets dry, a process that is parallel to the larva growth.
These larvae have a characteristic pattern of white, yellow and black transverse bands. Below a larva in the first and last stage is shown. It is believed that it takes them 25 days to reach their final size which is 2000 times their initial one. Amazing, isn’t it?
Only then will they hang and build their chrysalis. At the beginning, the chrysalis is light green but soon the lines of the wings pattern appear. Then, the chrysalis get darker and darker till the day they are seen brown, what means that in 24 hours’ time the butterfly will go out of it. As you can imagine, this is the most magical moment of the whole process. I still cannot believe how this is possible.
For me it was like becoming mom. The first hours of life they cannot fly and the feeling that this little beautiful animal needs you is perfect.