Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Raising a Monarch Butterfly

Two years ago, we found a monarch butterfly caterpillar at my parents' farm in Southeastern Ohio in August. We watched the amazing transformation take place, stunned and enthralled as God's miracle unfolded right before our eyes. It began with the ravenous eating and rapid growth of the caterpillar. As we were getting ready to return home to Pennsylvania, I noticed the caterpillar had attached himself to a stick and dropped head down. I was concerned. Was this normal? Soon, I noticed a green substance creeping up the caterpillar, but it was time to go. We packed our little piece of nature into the car and headed home, hoping the jarring of the car didn't disturb our precious cargo.

When we climbed out of the car, we were amazed to see the work of the caterpillar was complete for now: He had turned into a lovely jade-green chrysalis, complete with a metallic gold line around the top and more gold specks around the base. We watched and waited. One morning, I noticed the chrysalis had turned black. I was certain something bad had happened. The girls and I left for a few hours to run an errand, and while we were gone, my husband called to inform us our butterfly had hatched.

Disappointed to have missed it, we rushed home. We saw that our butterfly's abdomen looked large and its wings, small and wet. We took him outside and watched as his wings grew larger and drier (evidently he was pumping fluid into his wing veins).  He took turns walking onto our fingers and letting us "hold" him. We were careful not to touch his wings, which would harm him.

The girls and I watched as our butterfly grew stronger and stronger. He flew a bit, then rested on the brick side of our house. We took pictures. And, finally, we said goodbye to our beautiful friend.

We had such a wonderful experience witnessing God's beauty at work in the world around us, we've been wanting to raise another monarch butterfly. Our wish has been granted again this summer. I returned home from another visit to Ohio this past Sunday with what I thought was one large monarch caterpillar and some milkweed leaves to feed him.

Turns out, two more tiny, tiny caterpillars had hitched a ride on the milkweed. God is generous!

Dear Lord: Please help us to appreciate the beauty and wonder of the natural world around us, which you have created. Allow us to view the miracle of transformation from caterpillar to butterfly and be inspired. If a tiny worm can accomplish such dramatic results in a few short days, what could we do, if only we trusted in you and in our own gifts?

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
  Romans 12:2

For more information about monarchs and some cool life cycle photos, visit

Image: Liz Noffsinger /

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