Life Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly

This is my poster chronicling the life cycle of monarch butterflies. We raise and release the butterflies, and I’ve photographed each stage, from egg to emerged adult. You can purchase the poster through my Artfire gallery.

Life cycle of the monarch butterfly poster

Life cycle of the monarch butterfly poster

The card I made from the poster is also available on Artfire.

Monarch life cycle card

Monarch butterfly on milkweed flower

Monarch butterfly on milkweed flower

I’m working on a complete gallery of my photos of the entire life cycle, starting with the eggs that a butterfly lay on the milkweed plants in our garden.

Monarch egg on milkweed plant

Monarch egg on milkweed plant

We left most of the eggs on the plants, but brought some inside. We kept them until they emerged, then released them. Generally, the cycle from egg to butterfly takes about a month. The first caterpillar emerged from its egg on March 26th, and they had all emerged by the next day. See photos of the empty egg, and of the caterpillars.  By April 11th the caterpillars were about an inch long, at their third or fourth instar (that’s the stage between sheds of their skin). The first caterpillar pupated (turned into a chrysalis) on April 18th.

Monarch butterfly chrysalis

Monarch butterfly chrysalis

On May 1st the first set of chrysalises started to turn dark, and then their wings started showing through the chrysalis, which meant they were getting ready to emerge (eclose). May 2nd, near midnight, the first butterfly emerged! Over the night to the morning of May 3rd, five of them emerged.

Monarch butterfly emerging from chrysalis

Monarch butterfly emerging from chrysalis

The last two emerged on May 4th, and we released them during the day.  All gone, hopefully to lay more eggs on milkweed to continue the cycle ….

Monarch butterfly on milkweed

Monarch butterfly on milkweed

My blog posts about monarch butterflies:

Monarch Butterfly Mating Dance

More Monarch Butterflies

A Monarch Butterfly Visits the Garden

Monarch Butterfly Emerges

Monarch caterpillar to chrysalis

First monarch caterpillar emerges

Monarch eggs in the garden!

A Very Butterfly Day

A Butterfly Born on the 4th of July

Butterflies & Barbie at the Albany Library