When we were in Ohio during the 2017-2018 school year, my sister Liz gave us some milkweed leaves with monarch butterfly eggs attached. For the first time ever, the boys and I (and Grandma!) got to observe the life cycle of this beautiful creature.

Humble beginnings…

monarch egg and caterpillar

You surely noticed the striped monarch caterpillar on the leaf in the right hand side of the picture, but did you notice the tiny white Monarch egg attached to the milkweed leaf in the left side of this picture? Milkweed is the only plant that these caterpillars can eat, and a female will lay over 300 eggs during her short adult life. The caterpillar will be fully grown within 10-14 days of hatching.

monarch chrysalis

Big changes…

After eating all of the milkweed leaves and shedding its skin four times, the monarch caterpillar crawls to a new and safer location for the next phase of its transformation. Our caterpillar chose to attach itself to the bottom rung of a chair in Grandma’s living room. The caterpillar then sheds its skin one final time, and forms a beautiful green chrysalis with sparkling gold dots. I did some research and couldn’t find any definitive reason for the brilliant gold spots – maybe they are protective coloring, or for camouflage… or maybe just because God likes to make things beautiful! (That’s my personal opinion.)

Complete metamorphosis…

ready to shed the chrysalis

During the two weeks of the chrysalis stage, the caterpillar undergoes a complete metamorphosis. Right before it’s time for the butterfly to emerge, the chrysalis becomes transparent and you can see the colors of the regal monarch. The boys and I didn’t know this would happen, and we were amazed by the beauty!


preparing his wings to fly

Here is our butterfly crawling out of its chrysalis. It needed to hang upside down for more than an hour so that the liquids in its abdomen could flow into the crumpled wings, preparing them to fly.


The beautiful adult butterfly is known as “imago,” as this stage is the well-known image of the monarch.

Although I grew up in Ohio and had seen monarch butterflies all my life, I had never before watched the metamorphosis process, and it was a first for the boys, too. What a beautiful combination of science and nature and Biblical truth as we witnessed firsthand the example of transformation that has been a favorite illustration of Sunday School teachers since the beginning of time!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

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