MILKWEED AND MONARCHS

Monarch butterflies are milkweed butterflies, which means they lay eggs singly on the underside of the milkweed plant during the spring and summer. They can lay up to 1200 eggs and may mate several times. There are various caterpillar stages, they will molt about five times and with each molt they become bigger. They eat milkweed, which develops and increases their mass before going into the pupa stage. The last larval molt is how big they will become, they will then search for a site to secure themselves to, spin a silk pad into a horizontal sub-state to hang upside down, until they turn into chrysalis. Metamorphosis begins and they stay encased until the adult stage. They will emerge as an adult, continue to hang upside down until the wings are dry, then pump body fluids into the wings, which expand and stiffen until conditions allow them to fly. They then feed on nectar plants and water by using a sucking tube called proboscis that lies coiled under the head when not in use. The photos are of a Monarch on a coneflower and two types of milkweed, common names are Butterfly Weed and Showy Milkweed.

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