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Amelia SanJon Gallery
Amelia Island Artists Workshop
Sandra Baker-Hinton
218A Ash Street., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
904-491-8040,  904-557-1195 cell
http://www.sandrabaker-hinton.com
http://www.ameliasanjongallery.com
Amelia Island Artists Workshop (for workshop schedules)

In the beginning there were two.  A small family is what I had in mind.  Two little offspring which would grow into adulthood with little problems along the way.
A trip to the Ace Hardware store to supplement the food source for these hungry fellows and all my small family plans went out the window.
 
The plant I bought had 7 more tiny caterpillars exploding my small planned family to 9 instead.
 
Pretty soon the first two were heading onto another stage.  Their quiet, making no demands, stage.  Their, "I'm just hanging around", stage.
 
Meanwhile the cute little tiny guys were expanding faster then you can imagine.  Other plants had to be bought for back-up as they were going through one plant every couple of days.  On one of those plants was even another caterpillar bringing our family size up to 10.  These eating machines were never full but then one day...
 
..five of the older cats stopped eating and began to get that wandering look in their eyes.  They were hastily put in the holding tank and soon were on their way to becoming one of the quiet ones.
 
While they were doing their hanging period my first two emerged from their chrysalis and were released into the back yard.  I called them Thelma and Louise but I think Bill and Bob may be more appropriate since it looks like these are male markings.
 
In the meantime this week we also had baby wrens to be hatched as mom and dad became very busy feeding their offspring.  Such a pleasure to know for sure that they choose my little proffered dwelling after all.
 
And that brings us up to today and it is Mother's Day.  As I go into the kitchen I yell back to Bruce that it looks like we are going to have some new babies, -er, I mean adult Monarchs today.  By the time I go to the back of the house for a while this is what I find on reentering the kitchen.  One has already emerged and got his wings all pumped up and everything.
 
With four more to go I know that I can surely catch at least a few of them doing their thing.  We are not sure what will happen to the third Chrysalis in this photo because it has had a noticable defect since it was formed, a large brown spot which almost looked like the imprint of a tiny wing in it.  The emergence happens very quickly so I am vigilant as I prepare omlets for our breakfast.  
 
 
With plate in hand I realize that I am almost going to miss it again as the chrysalis is splitting open and out comes # 4 (remember our first two Bill & Bob are already gone) and number 5 is just splitting open a few seconds later.
 
The big fat body contains the fluid that will in a few moments time pump into those tiny withered wings to make them full adult size.  Number 6 broke out of his about 30 minutes later.  Miraculous how well timed their development has been.
 
Hard to believe the transformations that have already taken place in this young one's life.
 
As this one begins to inflate those wings the other one, which is the one we did not even believe would develop at all, begins to emerge as well.
 
The one with the bad spot on his chrysalis had as a cat, also only had one antenna, so he had some problems from early on.  As you can see one side looks as if it was smaller and as the inflation continues it became apparent that it only had one wing on that side of its body.  I guess the imprint of that tiny wing was indeed the 4th wing. 
 
Not all of our children are perfect but we still wish the best for them.  It will be treated no different then those with 4 wings.
 
I am beginning to have a bouquet of Butterfly wings.
 
They are almost there, almost full sized.
 
With 4 down and two to go, it is almost time to take them outside.
 
So my mother's day has been spent looking over all our newest charges.  Seeing that they are taken out in the natural world as soon as their wings are complete and firmed up.  In looking at the pictures of how to tell the sex of a Butterfly it looks like this one is a female.  The heavier wider black lines tell the story and the color on the tips is almost black.
 
I tend to think this one is a male with the thinner black lines on his wings.  I'm sure Elizabeth will correct me if I am wrong.
 
Before long they had all decided it was time to lift their wings and fly away out into the big world awaiting them.  And that's the way it should be.  Even the one with only three wings had flown away.  And that was my Mother's Day gift from nature and my gift to you all.
 
As my friend Kathy said last night in her Mother's Day wishes,  "Whether they walk upright, are covered with skin, feathers, scales, fur, we're all mothers.  Give yourselves a pat on the back for all you do to keep the world in balance.
(Please take a moment to consider:
These photo-stories have always been offered completely free, to simply share the wonders of nature. Thousands of hours have been poured into them and it has even become necessary to enlist the services of a paid email service to send out the large numbers who now receive them. So, with the current economic situation if you are able to make a small donation to help ensure the continuation of the stories it would be greatly appreciated.)



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