Monarch Butterfly Chrysalis
I originally spotted this chrysalis on September 1st. I went back to check on it on September 11th, and was sorry to see that it had become a sad statistic. I found it "rotten" - dead with a hole in the side. The most likely cause of death was tiny, parasitic chalcid wasps. These wasps will lay eggs in soft chrysalises. They do this by following caterpillars that are about to pupate, and then laying eggs in the new chrysalis. The wasp larvae eat the insides of the chrysalis, and then emerge as adults. They serve an important role in the balance of nature, but it's unfortunate to see it happen to a monarch since they are already struggling with decline. If nothing else, this is a reminder of how fragile and vulnerable these insects are.
The monarch butterfly or simply monarch is a milkweed butterfly in the family Nymphalidae. Other common names depending on region include milkweed, common tiger, wanderer, and black veined brown. It may be the most familiar North American butterfly, and is considered an iconic pollinator species. Its wings feature an easily recognizable black, orange, and white pattern, with a wingspan of 8.9–10.2 cm The viceroy butterfly is similar in color and pattern, but is markedly smaller and has an extra.. more