Life cycle begins for the monarch butterfly as the adult, female monach lays her eggs on the underside of a milkweed leaf. The egg is speck sized and yellowish green in color.
Within six day, the larva or caterpillar hatches and begins to eat. The new caterpillars will grow at varying rates.
It eats so much milkweed that its skin splits open. This process is called molting. The caterpillar will molt four different times, each time emerging with a new skin.
Two weeks later, now two inches and 3,000 times its birthweight, the two-week old caterpillar gets ready for yet another change.
With silk that comes from a gland below its jaw, the mature caterpillar spins a silk button on the underside of an object, then hangs from it by its back legs.
Hours pass. The skin spilts again. A blackhook reaches out. It grabs the button. Meanwhile, the caterpillar's legs, mouth, and antennae start falling away along with the skin.
What remains is the chrysalis or pupa.
In about ten days, the chrysalis darkens and eventually becomes clear revealing the wings.
Soon after the butterfly hatches. Hanging from the wrapper, the new butterfly must pump fluid into its still crumpled wings, then allows them to dry. In a few hours a beautiful monarch butterfly takes flight.