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  Life Cycle Hello World! Munching Peek-a-Boo Wings!

The monarch's strong wings are its trademark. The black veins in the wings form a strong framework for GLIDING like crossbars of a kite. They glide and ride on the air currents for their long-distance flight!

MONARCHS and MILKWEED are a magical connection ... Two life cycles blending hand-in-hand ... each with its own magical transformation of change.

At cycle's end, the milkweed pod POPS open - thousands of silky white seed puffs parachute into to air ... each drifting in the wind to an unknown place ... to begin new life in the spring as the seeds snuggle into the ground for a long winter's rest.

At cycle's end, the monarch chrysalis POPS open . . . an adult butterfly pushes its way out of its crystal sleeping bag to flutter and fly high up in the sky . . . then glide and soar on majestic wings to an unknown place 2,500 miles away to the Oyamel fir trees of Mexico or the cypress groves and eucalyptus trees of California ...snuggling together with thousands for a long winter's rest.

With this final cycle . . .

they rest . . .

they mate . . .

and new life begins.


The monarch's scientific name is s Danaus plexippus. Butterflies and moths belong to a category of insects called Lepidoptera, which means "scale wing." It comes from the Greek word s lepidos (scale) and pteron (wing). Monarch wings are made of thousands of tiny overlapping scales, like fish scales or shingles on a roof. These powdery scales give butterflies their beautiful color and patterns.


Can you tell the difference between a boy monarch and a girl monarch? Take a close look at their bottom wings. You will see a tiny thickening or black "dot" on the boys wings. The girls do NOT have dots.............

"BERTHA" the Butterfly

"Bertha" emerged from her chrysalis on the morning of a hurricane in Connecticut . . . Hurricane Bertha to be exact - that's how she acquired her very appropriate name. I certainly could not set her free in the midst of that terrible storm, so Bertha spent the day with me inside the house. I prepared some sugar water and placed many flavorful flowers for her in the bottom of her butterfly aquarium. I tucked her in for the night, never to imagine how eventful the next day would be!

It was the calm after the storm and it appeared as if Bertha was ready to fly. The sun was shining and the skies were blue, so I brought her small butterfly aquarium outside, lifted the lid and waited for Bertha to flutter away. After several minutes, she did not move. I lifted her out on my finger and tried to coax her off my hand, but Bertha did not move. Finally, she took off in flight!

I loved watching her fly around the yard, lighting on flowers and sampling their nectar. Then she headed off toward the grove of trees to the east of my house. Up she flew over the field where she munched milkweed, gliding and soaring on the wind currents, sailing up over the trees far off in the distance. It was hard to see her as she drifted out of sight, but then for some reason, she began circling back over the tops of the trees, back across the field she munched milkweed in and straight back to the front of my yard.

I was getting very excited to see her again, so I lifted up my hand as if to give her a landing post . . . then to my utter amazement . . . Bertha flew straight to me and landed on my finger. I COULDN'T BELIEVE MY EYES! I was so excited, and yet so sad that no one else was there with me to witness this wonderful event and ENJOY this awesome moment with me. Only a little bird siting on the telephone wire witnessed this blessed event! I had chills and goose bumps all over my body - amazed by the wonder that she had actually landed on my hand. It was as if she came back to say "Thank you" for taking such good care of her.

Bertha stayed for a minute or so and then . . . fluttered off. This time she flew high up over the trees and soon she was out of sight. My encounter with this beautiful monarch butterfly was a moment I will NEVER forget!

- Lynn M. Rosenblatt

Life Cycle Hello World! Munching Machine Peek-a-Boo Wings!

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Written and Photographed By Lynn M. Rosenblatt
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