Monday, April 19, 2010

Caterpillars, Chrysalis' and Transformation

If you know me, you know that I have been blessed to have the opportunity for transformation - more than once or twice. After seeing this 9 minute segment of video I'm not sure if I've become a butterfly yet - as a matter of fact I'm thinking there is no way, not yet, ... I'm still moving from one caterpillar life to another. How surprising (but not really) It's all just a mystery isn't it?

On a late August morning, just north of Lake Huron, in Canada, a miracle of nature is about to unfold. This tiny caterpillar is destined to become a Monarch butterfly. In one of the most amazing transformations in the animal world, the caterpillar will outgrow and shed its skin four times. The fifth time, the caterpillar disappears. It's transformed into a chrysalis, a delicate case within which a completely new being takes form.

After about 10 days in the chrysalis, the new creature is complete. All traces of the caterpillar are gone, and in its place is a butterfly with four delicate wings.

But the newly developed Monarch butterfly must wait a few hours for its wings to harden, and then, finally, it can fly.

This particular generation of Monarch butterflies is special. Every year, about a hundred million of them begin an astonishing migration. Coming from southern Canada and the northeastern United States, each butterfly, starting on its own, flies about 2,000 miles, arriving two months later in Mexico.

Their trip is part of a carefully timed cycle that began three generations back, when a group of Monarchs left Mexico at the end of the winter. They flew as far north as the Gulf States, mated, and died.

The second generation flew to the northern United States. There, they, too, mated and died, living only about a month. Their offspring, the third generation, completed the last leg of the journey to Canada, also surviving only about a month.

But the fourth generation will live almost nine months. And they'll fly all the way back to Mexico in one epic trip. It's an amazing natural cycle that so far eludes explanation.

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