University of Minnesota

From Egg to Adult

Contributed by G. Kittell

A monarch stuck a single egg
   Beneath a milkweed leaf --
Protected from the sun and rain
   A bit of time quite brief.

5 days it hung below the frond,
   Developing head down,
Transparent did the pod become,
   The head a blackish-brown.

It ate out of its chorion --
   This casing its first meal,
Then ate a ring about its birth --
   A dotted one-inch wheel.

2 days it ate and ate and grew,
   Put down a silken mat
To which it did attach itself
   And for a day it sat.

It forward crawled and left its skin,
   To molt this process known,
For the cuticle grows rigid,
   To grow -- new skin needs own.

And 3 more times it shed its skin --
   To count pupation -- 4,
And aft 2 weeks it left its host
   To hang, and transform more.

Perhaps it might go up a tree
   And travel somewhat far,
Then weave a mat of sticky silk
   To hold its legs like tar.

Then 18 hours hung upside-down
   And somewhat like a "J",
And fore it split one final time
   An "I" it briefly stayed.

This black and yellow caterpillar
   Now profoundly changed;
Its skin it wriggled up and off
   To chrysalis exchange.

Now lime green, lined with dots of gold,
   The word chrysalis is Greek
For gold, as most all butterflies
   This gold pupa's unique.

About 2 weeks it hung quite still,
   Then turned from green to clear;
Its skin then split, the stomach dropped,
   This eclosion bug was queer.

But the fluid in the stomach
   was pumped into the wings,
Which grew, perhaps, 3 times as big
   And awe did seeing bring.

And next it dropped meconium --
   Same as a newborn child,
And in 3 hours its wings were dry --
   And it fluttered free and wild.

-- G. Kittell
July 2012

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