I don't care how many monarch caterpillars we catch and how many years we do this, it never ceases to amaze me or become less miraculous. It is an amazing thing to watch! Today we released one butterfly and watched two caterpillars transform into their chrysalis.
When I saw that 2 caterpillars were on the verge of transforming, I couldn't resist grabbing my camera. After all, I've never had the chance to photograph them with a *really nice DSLR* before. Hehe. But to describe the process a little if you are unfamiliar. In the larva stage above, the caterpillars eat and eat and eat. They love milkweed, so that's what we feed them. It grows wild in the ditches here. Usually when Micah goes out to get milkweed, he comes home with another caterpillar. ;) When they get nice and fat, they climb to the top of the container and spin a nice thick, sticky web. They grab on with their back feet, and drop into a 'J' position like this:
There are some clues that it's almost "time", however. Just like giving birth--labor can last for many many hours and then the pushing stage begins and that can sometimes take a while. But then the baby begins to crown and you know it's going to be over very quickly. Same thing. The caterpillar at this point is having sort of "contractions" throughout its entire body. The antennae become withered looking (they are severed internally). The body looks very green. And then the curve of the J straightens out as the contractions become more intense:
Finally at the back of the caterpillar's head, the outer skin bursts open and the caterpillar wiggles to shed its skin.
As the skin gets all the way to the top, the caterpillar (can I even call it a caterpillar at this stage?? Pupa??) begins to rotate its body violently. It almost seems desperate to get that skin off. The problem is this--its hind feet, which it has a hold of the web with, are attached to the skin and are coming off. Inside, under the skin, is a small black stem. The end of the stem looks like the hook side of velcro. The pupa writhes violently to ensure that this stem embeds deeply into the web while simultaneously flicking off the skin. I read once that at this stage, it is possible for the pupa to fall because of how quickly this let go/hang on stage happens. Incredible!
Now that the hard work is over, the Pupa will continue to contract and pull itself into a chrysalis form. Then it will rest, unmoving and still.
What an incredible reflection of how God is working to transform ME from the inside out. It isn't always easy, and maybe there are even very scary moments where I could fall, but I am always in His hand.
Philippians 3:20-21, Philippians 1:6, 1 John 3:2...and I could keep going, but these are just a few verses that speak of the transformation we undergo as Christians.