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After posting about the queen caterpillars on our rush milkweeds last week, this week I came across another scene.

Yes, there's a butterfly and a caterpillar. Do you see what is unusual about this?

Let's take a closer look.

Catch it yet?

Maybe if you see the caterpillar more closely?

The caterpillar has two pairs of filaments or "tubercles" that look like antennae. That means it is a monarch butterfly caterpillar, Danaus plexippus.

The butterfly is a queen butterfly, Danaus gilippus. The queen caterpillar has three pairs of tubercles and different patterned stripes (see comparison here).

They are life stages of two different species, although they are related.

Yes, our milkweeds are busy this year.

 

There's always something going on on our rush milkweed plants.

We've been watching a chrysalis that's attached to one of the stems. Can you guess what kind of butterfly it belongs to?

This morning it had darkened up and the shape had changed.

Sure enough, a wrinkly butterfly emerged.

 

Can you recognize it now?

On a nearby plant, this female queen butterfly laid eggs for the next generation.

We'll have more to watch next week.

Often when a caterpillar is ready to pupate, it crawls away from the host plant where it was feeding. That hiding behavior may make finding the chrysalis and adult butterfly more difficult.

freshly-emerged-queen-butterflyIn this case, however, the queen caterpillar formed a chrysalis right on the plant it was feeding on, a rush milkweed. Do you see the remains of the chrysalis?

queen butterflyThere's a freshly-emerged queen butterfly right in the open for all to see.

Have you ever found a newly-emerged butterfly drying its wings?

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