Since my area rarely experiences freezes, flowers continue to provide nectar for the adults and the milkweeds offer the caterpillars their food supply. The numerous caterpillars completely strip the leaves and flowers, then begin eating the stems. It seems there are never enough plants for the voracious caterpillars - gardeners frantically phone friends looking for "foster" milkweeds.

Before they pupate they crawl around for about 2 days without eating as they can't have any undigested food in their gut when they go into the crysalis stage.

Sadly, not all the caterpillars successfully emerge. The tiny Tachinid Wasp lays its eggs in the pupa and the hatching young wasps eat the evolving butterfly.

The crysalis is a beautiful jade green with gold dots. Just before the butterfly emerges the crysalis becomes clear so the orange and black folded wings are visible.

It takes several hours, depending on temperature, for the fluids to plump up and stiffen the wings. During that time, the Monarchs pump their wings, attempt short, very wobbly, flights and rest in between those exertions. All of a sudden, though, they will gracefully zoom away, ready to start a new generation.