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 At the end of the path is the beginning of your virtual tour. Locate the following scene, then follow to the right with the photos below:

 The mural shows eggs on milkweed. Female Monarchs only lay eggs on milkweed plants, because Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed. The eggs hatch after three days.  After hatching, Monarch caterpillars eat their own egg shell and then start their full time job of eating milkweed.

above: The beginning of the tour and Monarch lifecycle. Egg Stage.
above: Close up of an actual Monarch Egg on Milkweed.

 The milkweed plant provides both food and shelter for a caterpillar for approximately two weeks. They eat almost constantly, so a large supply of milkweed is absolutely critical. The egg and caterpillar stage is not without danger. The Monarch has many predators. Spiders and ants will eat eggs and caterpillars. Some birds, wasps, and even mice will eat adult butterflies. Caterpillars also suffer from parasites. To ensure that as many Monarchs as possible reach adulthood, we gather the eggs and caterpillars to raise and release. The two week caterpillar stage includes rapid growth as it prepares for metamorphosis. The caterpillar will molt 4 times during this stage and grow bigger each time. The growth stage between each molt is called an instar. 

above: a caterpillar on Butterfly Weed, another Milkweed species.

above: There are actually 6 caterpillars in the photo at various instar stages.

This part of the mural shows us the process the caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly.  A caterpillar will form a ‘J’ shape and hang there approximately eighteen hours before transforming into a chrysalis. Just before they turn into a chrysalis, Monarch caterpillars spin a silk mat from which they hang upside down. The final skin is shed when the caterpillar hangs straight, wriggles out of its skin and the jade green chrysalis is formed. For several days, it might seem that nothing is happening, but the Monarch caterpillar is being completely transformed. Just before the monarchs emerge, their black, orange, and white wing patterns are visible through the pupa covering.   After emerging, the butterfly pumps body fluid into its wings, allowing them to fully expand and harden, before taking its first flight. 

Adult Monarch butterflies can feed off of a number of plants, you'll see them enjoying the coneflower, anise hyssop, and butterfly weed in the garden before they set on their leg of the great migration.

The Flutterfly Courtyard is an immersive Monarch experience born out of our love for the Monarch butterfly and our concern for the challenges they are facing. Filled with nectar and pollen rich plants, the garden is a magnet for pollinators of all types. Our main focus is the Monarch Butterfly, its life cycle and what it needs to thrive and increase in number, so you'll see a large grouping of milkweed.  As you work your way through the garden, take your time, listen to the sounds of the pollinator visitors coming and going. Look for the flashes of brilliant color as the butterflies may flit through the garden depending on season.  Observe how even an enclosed courtyard like this can be teeming with life if we just take a moment to be good hosts to our wild neighbors.

Below is a link to the native plants in the Flutterby Courtyard.  Of course change in the seasons is a change in the plants!  


click here for a list of more MILKWEED VARITIES 

Special thanks so these wonderful volunteers who made so much of this possible and spending their valuable time for us and the Monarchs.

Carolyn Turner-a Monarch hero who educated me on milkweed

Barbara Tompary- the first artist to trust our vision, thanks for the patience

Kayla Helms-our product label artist who became a mural artist!

Gail Karns- Master Gardener we're so fortunate to have because of her love for native plants and her continued care of the courtyard

Korrin Wood Photography- thanks for conveying the story beautifully in pictures

Sarah Karns-for communicating it all clearly here and on our website and bookmarks!

Sherwin Williams- for donating much of the mural paint!

My family- for doing so much of the work, especially my husband.

My Employees- for dealing with all the extra and for become stewards of this amazing insect.

Our Customers-who have dropped your change in the Monarch donation bowl- it has been an expense that you've helped bear the burden of.

 Also thanks to all that have planted milkweed and those rearing Monarch Butterflies responsibly!