Birth of a Monarch

Today’s post features a link to a 2-minute video I made a few days ago, as a Monarch butterfly was “born”, emerging from it’s chrysalis, in my indoor Monarch nursery. This video was captured in real time. To view this amazing process, click on this YouTube link:

 

Coming up … I’m now beginning work on making a couple of time-lapse videos, one of a Monarch egg as it hatches a Monarch caterpillar, and another one with a Monarch caterpillar as it transforms into a chrysalis.

All photos and videos were captured using a Canon 5DMK3 DSLR camera.

 

 

Posted in 2022, Blog, Butterfly Photography, Insect Photography, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Video | Tags: ,
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Monarch Migration at Peak

Today’s post features a few images I’ve captured in the church butterfly garden (Lake of the Ozarks, MO) over the past few days. The Monarch migration certainly seemed to be suppressed this year, supporting many accounts I have read about their numbers being down.

Here are a few images.

An adult Monarch seeking nectar from a butterfly bush:

Monarch butterfly seeks nectar from a butterfly bush

A Monarch chrysalis found in the butterfly garden:

Monarch chrysalis, attached to a Tropical Milkweed plant

A Monarch caterpillar eating a milkweed leaf:

Monarch caterpillar eating a milkweed leaf

A curious Monarch caterpillar checking out another, on the same milkweed plant:

A Monarch caterpillar checking out another cat

As of this writing, I have released 2 adult Monarchs back into the butterfly garden, and still have 5 Monarch chrysalises and 3 Monarch caterpillars that I am rearing in my spare bedroom. I’ve had great experiences capturing both photos and videos of these beautiful guys/gals as they transform into the chrysalis, and as they eclose out of the chrysalis into an adult Monarch butterfly. It will take some time, but I will be featuring a few videos, photo sequences and time-lapse photos of these processes, once I can get them done.

 

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 camera body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens, with 36mm of Extension Tubes
  • Handheld
  • ISO 200 and ISO 500
  • Aperture f/3.5, f/4, and f/8
  • Shutter 1/250 sec. to 1/8000 sec.

 

 

 

 

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Skippers

Today’s post features a common visitor to the butterfly garden … one of the smaller, skipper butterflies. These images were captured while one of the skippers was busy seeking nectar from one of the swamp milkweed flowers in the garden:

Skipper butterfly on Milkweed

Skipper butterfly on Milkweed

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 camera body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/3.5
  • Shutter 1/4000 sec.

 

 

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Recent Visitors

Today’s post features a common visitor to the butterfly garden … the Clearwing Hummingbird Moth.

As I tend the church butterfly garden, these small, interesting critters are often seen flying and hovering about the blooms:

 

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

Coming up … more butterfly garden imagaes.

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 camera body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 800 and ISO 1600
  • Aperture f/3.5 and f/8
  • Shutter 1/250 sec. to 1/3000 sec.

 

 

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Coming Out Party

Today’s post features a few images I captured late last week in my indoor photo studio. Knowing the Monarch migration would soon be underway, I set up some mesh, butterfly houses and a tripod with camera, all in my spare bedroom. When I began finding Monarch eggs last week, I collected what I could find and took them home to let them hatch in a non-predatory environment.

Last Thursday afternoon, the first egg hatched! I had everything in place and was able to capture the hatch sequence. I’m working on putting together a time-lapse video of the process, but it will take some time. Here are a select few of the images I captured of the hatch.

In this first photo, when the caterpillar is about ready to hatch (note the black head of the caterpillar, at the top of the egg):

Monarch butterfly egg on milkweed leaf

As hatching begins, the “cat” begins chewing a hole in the egg shell:

Monarch caterpillar chewing through egg shell

In this next image, the cat has his head outside the egg and he surveys his new environment, before exiting:

Monarch caterpillar chewing through egg shell

And then he begins exiting the egg casing:

Monarch caterpillar begins his exit from the egg

Almost out:

Monarch caterpillar begins his exit from the egg

Getting those last legs out!

Monarch caterpillar begins his exit from the egg

Once fully out, the Monarch cat eats his first meal … the empty, protein-rich egg casing:

Monarch caterpillar feasting on the egg casing

Quite a miraculous process! Since this was captured last week, I have also captured the second egg hatching, but not yet able to download the many images. I’m hoping even some better images! If so, they’ll likely show up here very soon!

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 camera body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens + 68mm of Extension Tubes (36mm + 20mm + 12mm)
  • Bogen 3021 Tripod, with ballhead
  • ISO 3200
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/40 sec.

 

 

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Two Monarch Faves

Today’s post features a couple of the Monarch butterfly’s favorite plants in my butterfly garden … the Tropical Milkweed and the Swamp Milkweed. Both these plants are “host plants” for the Monarch butterfly. Through sensing organs in the Monarch butterfly’s feet, they can identify Milkweed plants and then can lay eggs on the plant, if ready to lay eggs. Here are a couple of recent images of these plants in bloom:

Tropical Milkweed:

Tropical Milkweed in bloom

Swamp Milkweed:

Swamp Milkweed flower

Coming up … more Monarch images, including some macro images of some Monarch eggs as they hatch.

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 camera body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Handheld
  • ISO 200 (Tropical) and ISO 800 (Swamp)
  • Aperture f/8 (Tropical) and f/16 (Swamp)
  • Shutter 1/250 sec. (Tropical) and 1/90 sec. (Swamp)

 

 

 

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Bumbling Thru the Swamp

Today’s post comes from the butterfly garden, a couple of weeks ago here in the Missouri Ozarks. While photographing butterflies, this Bumble Bee flew in and spent quite a lot of time collecting nectar from the Swamp Milkweed plants that are located in the garden:

Bumble Bee collecting nectar from Swamp Milkweed

Coming up … more observations from the butterfly garden.

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 camera body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Handheld
  • ISO 800
  • Aperture f/3.5
  • Shutter 1/6000 sec.

 

 

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Return of Royalty

Today’s post features some images I captured yesterday in the church butterfly garden, here in the Ozarks of Missouri.

I’ve been waiting for the always fun fall migration of Monarch butterflies here and just the last couple of days has seen the initial arrival of these beautiful migrants! As I watered the church gardens a couple of days ago, I observed a single Monarch that remained in the butterfly garden for over an hour and a half. So yesterday I slowly inspected the underside of the milkweed leaves and found a single, Monarch egg.

Here are a few images I captured the past few days.

Monarch butterfly seeking nectar from a Tropical Milkweed plant:

Monarch butterfly seeking nectar from Tropical Milkweed

A single Monarch egg found on a Tropical Milkweed leaf:

Monarch butterfly egg on milkweed leaf

A cropped closeup view of the egg:

Monarch butterfly egg on milkweed leaf

I’ve got my “Monarch nursery” set up in a spare bedroom and plan on bringing this egg back so I can photograph the caterpillar hatching from it.

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 camera body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Handheld (my tripod was not with me, so I took lots of images as I knew many would be blurry and unusable!)
  • ISO 800 (used a high ISO to help get a faster shutter speed)
  • Aperture f/8 and f/3.5
  • Shutter 1/500 sec., 1/4000 sec., and 1/3000 sec.

 

 

 

 

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Buckeye Butterfly

Today’s post features an image I captured yesterday in the church butterfly garden, here at the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.

While cleaning up the garden, this Buckeye butterfly flew in and began collecting nectar from one of the butterfly bushes in the garden:

Buckeye Butterfly

Coming up … more butterflies from this garden as they begin a feeding frenzy here.

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 camera body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Handheld
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/3.5
  • Shutter 1/3000 sec.

 

 

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Can U See Me Now?

Today’s post features some of the incredible ways our wildlife can “hide” from us in plain sight! While photographing woodland wildflowers a few years ago, I ran across this Gray Tree Frog, complete with his “camo” clothes. Resting on the woodland floor, he easily fades into his surroundings. Fortunately for me, he moved a bit which allowed me to spot him!

Gray Tree Frog

Gray Tree frog

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 camera body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod and ballhead
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/3.5 and f/8
  • Shutter 1/640 sec. and 1/40 sec.

 

 

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