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[IGSROBIN] cacoon hunting

We had the usual late winter early spring invasion of Monarchs on the Milkweed that we grow just for them.  They ate it to the stem, and then, as if they were programmed to the last leaf, promptly left the milkweed to seek out other twigs and rough proturberances to undergo the profound metamorphisis from green and black striped worm, to orange and black butterfly.
After they disappear, I always go cacoon hunting.  The worms go to the most improbable places--the top of the garage door, a twig on the hibiscus--and hang upside down.  In a day they turn from a leaf eater, to a jeweled casing.  Pale lime green, with specks of purest gold sprinkled across the pupae. 
Watch them for a week, two at the most.  Then the jade casing splits, and goes from luminous to dull, the gold disappears.  But out of it emerges a new monarch, wings folded, needing to be dried in the sun and pumped up with butterfly blood.  After about an hour they fly, mate, lay eggs, and head off to the north on the great Monarch migration.  Next fall they will be back, on the way to central america, and a few will decide to grace us with their presence, with jade cacoons hidden in the twigs, and with the neverending story of birth, death, and regeneration.

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