Video of Monarch caterpillar emerging from egg.
A Monarch Project Update

Using a macro lens on an iPhone and a whole lot of patience I captured a detailed video of a Monarch caterpillar as it emerged from it’s egg. And it’s AMAZING.


That’s right. A Monarch Project Update. I’ve decided to make this whole saving the Monarchs project official with its own dedicated space on The Art of Doing Stuff and catchy title.

For those of you who took it upon yourselves to raise a Monarch butterfly, I’ve come up with The Monarch Project. A little endeavour to raise awareness about how the Monarch is in decline and how easy it is to raise one to help ensure the species lives on.

If you wanna raise a Monarch (cause they’re way easier to raise than kids) you can see all my tutorials on it here.

Yeah, I know. Sounds very humanitarian, save the world kind of stuff. The sort of thing Angelina Jolie or George Clooney are likely to be interested in.

That’s enough about that.

I wanted to update you on my own Monarchs. At this very moment I have a tiny 2 day old caterpillar, a 4 week old caterpillar and a chrysalis. I brought an egg in for my sister who wanted to give them to a friend to raise. However that friend was busy the weekend the eggs were to hatch, so we left them here and I hatched them. Well, technically I didn’t hatch them, I mean I didn’t have to squat over them or anything. All I really had to do to ensure they hatched was not throw them on the floor and stomp on them.

I took a peek at the egg a couple of days ago and I could see by the way it was dark at the tip that it was seconds away from hatching. So I grabbed my iphone, the egg and the milkweed it was on and ran outside.

I managed to get a video of the entire thing. The caterpillar nibbling its way out of the egg and emerging for the first time into the world.

Here it is. Even if you don’t want to raise a butterfly, this is a great video to watch. I felt very Wild Kingdom doing it.

Monarch Caterpillar Emerging from Egg

Join the Monarch Project. Learn the whys and hows of raising a Monarch butterfly.

Wanna know how I got such a close up video on my old iPhone? I happen to have a few jewellers loupes for some reason. It’s from back in the day when I was a jewellery thief. I ran back inside and got one and just put it in front of my iPhone lens when I was shooting the video.

It worked great. I have a little macro lens that slips onto my iPhone but it wasn’t letting me get close enough to the caterpillar. That’s when the idea of the loupe came to me. All of this transpired in about 1.2 seconds by the way because I knew I didn’t have much time or I’d miss the whole event. And by now we all know that an event not captured on video is only imaginary.

Which is why I proposed all cameras be banned from George Clooney’s wedding.


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Video of Monarch caterpillar emerging from egg.<br data-lazy-src=


  1. Barb says:

    Hi Karen:
    The monarchs are going to need a lot of help this year. This December, the butterflies covered a total of 10 acres, compared to 2.8 acres in 2014 and a record low of 1.66 acres in 2013. Then this happened:

    They are still assessing the impact but hopefully it is not as harsh as originally reported.

  2. Scott says:

    I am ordering milkweed seeds to plant in the garden this year. My Aunt in Kansas has saved some seeds from wild plants and is going to plant them.

  3. Sarah says:

    I love this so much! Next year, I will plan to make a Monarch-friendly habitat in our garden.

    And if you haven’t already seen them, Houzz has a posted a couple of Monarch-specific idea books this summer. Yay!

    Bonus post:

  4. Tresna Wood says:

    I just love That your saving the Monarch Butterfly. I live in Queensland Australia and we don’t have a problem with them becoming extinct. We are moving from the city to the country in a month and I intend to help the Monarch butterfly population. thanks for your fun post. and best of luck with your project

  5. Barbie says:

    Ok, I totally want to do this now. I have saved the feral kitties in my neighborhood so why not the monarch butterfly as well?

  6. Laura Bee says:

    Ahhh, beautiful. Does it have a name yet? Still looking here. Coming home from visiting my mom in the hospital I stopped to watch the sunset with my almost 4 year old daughter a minute. She asked to get out, so we did. Wandered around the tall grass beside a cornfield along an old laneway. Filled with wild flowers, Queen Anne’s Lace, Chickory, Milkweed – no Monarchs. So many memories of my childhood are of fields & the bugs & birds, mice and snakes. I take her away from the city whenever I can – more often it’s to a park though… Moving to a smaller town soon. Closer to the country & fresh air and more chances to muck around away from endless lawn like parks. I know she loves nature. Picked her up from daycare today & she was busy finding bugs in the sand between the bricks of the playground :) God I love her.
    And I am off topic….sorry.
    I did see three butterflies yesterday down by the Darlington nuclear plant while on a walk with my friend. Have to check my neighbour’s yard again for eggs or babies. Thanks for doing this Karen. She can’t have my childhood, but there are parts of it I can share.
    Speaking of sharing – Pinning this too!

  7. Shawna G says:

    Karen, we are thrilled you are doing this. I have done this every year for about 6 years with my kids. The past two we have not had any luck finding eggs or “tiny pillars” as my littlest one calls them. This year at the apple orchard we found an egg, one small caterpillar and one slightly larger. We brought them home and were pleased to see Freddie and George eating and growing. And finally little Karsyn emerged from her egg. The kids were ecstatic! Sad to say, George and Karsyn didn’t make it but Freddie grew and grew. And tonight we watched and video taped him going into his chrysalis. It was so cool. We can’t wait for him to emerge!

  8. marilyn says:

    wow that was so sweet , i felt very emotional and that song!! i loved the whole thing..well done Karen well don!

  9. deb says:

    This was beautiful… are you !

  10. Lani says:

    I used to call Santa Cruz, CA home…as well as thousands of Monarch butterflies. They would sit so thick up in the trees, and you would think the breeze was weaving in an out of the tops, but actually, all of the “orange leaves” and movement were the butterflies. I wonder what they look like now? I had no idea they were in decline.

  11. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    Wow, so amazing. Thanks for the trouble it took to share with us. Wow. Next season I will be doing the same. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. and delivering so beautifully. Loved your musical selection, Happy Birthday!

    You are amazing.

  12. kate-v says:

    Lovely video of the hatching, thank you. Also glad that Cuddles is still holding her own.

  13. Alicia says:

    So I got on as Amber suggested and bought seeds (they aren’t free but very inexpensive). I will plant them next year and this fall look to find eggs in the wild. Thanks for the great post Karen. You are quite the Renaissance lady! Kisses to Cuddles.

  14. Bols says:

    Ever since you posted the original post a week or two ago, I have been checking every single milkweed I came across but I failed to see any eggs. Maybe they are all the wrong variety?

  15. Marion says:

    Great video! Thanks for sharing and starting this project.

  16. Ev Wilcox says:

    Oh, Ellen, umm, I meant Karen, thanks so much for the video! You have strengthened my resolve to raise Monarchs. Twice I have had the honor of having a cloud rest at my home, once each in two different places we lived. Maybe they were trying to tell me something! So I must find and grow the proper milkweed and see about getting the “seeds” to grow the most wonderful butterflies ever! Thanks again!

  17. Amber says:

    Some notes on monarchs: have at least 3 full grown milkweed plants before you bring a caterpillar over. Each cat will eat 10-14 leaves. You dont want baby to starve!
    Don’t touch the egg or the baby cat: the slightest pressure could damage it’s internal organs.
    Monarchs are one of the top pollinators of crops. Imagine losing the honey bee; losing the monarch is second for bad.
    Try for lots of facts and free milk weed seeds.

  18. JeannieB says:

    Bravo! What a fantastic video! Great idea to use a loupe.
    My young granddaughter found an egg on my few, precious milkweed plants, pulled off the leaf and came running into the house with it, to show me. A minute later, there were tears. The egg had fallen off, into the grass. So, we’re one Monarch down. Lesson learned. Leave them alone. Mother nature knows what she’s doing.

    • Karen says:

      You mean leave them alone, outside JeannieB? Cause in this case Mother Nature really doesn’t know what she’s doing. Eggs in the wild have a 1% chance of surviving if left outside. Whereas it has close to 100% chance of living if you bring it in and raise it. (Oh! And if the egg fell off, it probably wasn’t an egg. Those things are stuck on the leaf like cement) ~ karen!

  19. Ruth says:

    I had been wondering about the absence of this post…. since I already watched the video on the day it was posted to your YouTube channel. :-D

    I am glad that Cuddles is no worse, so the the only way to go from here is up… and don’t tell me otherwise. Cheering her on over here.

    [By the way, we finally got some rain worth mentioning. A bit of ‘spin-off’ from Tropical Storm Cristobal who is currently en route to Bermuda, after killing three in Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic) and wreaking havoc on the infrastructure in the tiny islands above. He didn’t come our way but the system was wide enough that we could benefit from the glorious liquid.]

  20. Carla says:

    Felt like you should play the music from Rocky as the caterpillar struggled to get out of the egg.

  21. Jean says:

    That’s a really great video. Very inspiring. At our Minnesota State Fair, I watched a presentation on the Monarch and Milkweed. We have a program at the U of M designated just to the Monarch. I am very motivated to help. I like in the video where you mention that we used to see them all over when I was a kid. I noticed many years ago that I wasn’t seeing them anymore, or not often anyway. Thanks for the video, I will be sharing!

  22. April says:

    Cool video! I tried to grow a monarch….found the caterpillar, she ate, she grew, she hung and started to turn
    Green, but had a funny black dot on her and then nothing, she died :( I think it was oe spore. Want to try again but can’t find an egg or caterpillar. Hopefully next summer.

  23. Phyllis Kraemer says:

    Great Video…thank you!

  24. Caroline says:

    On the hunt for milkweed this week! When do the Monarchs start to migrate? Is it still early enough to find an egg and raise it to adulthood?

  25. mayr says:

    I think you are a magnificent human.

    • Karen says:

      Oh my. Well, thanks Mayr. I’m actually kind of sarcastic and blunt. But I can be magnificent too, lol. ~ karen!

      • Deb says:

        Perhaps the sarcasm and bluntness just exudes from the magnificence….like a body can only hold so much. In any event, I’m pretty sure we all think you are magnificent. I remember “growing” monarches as a kid with my mom’s help. Apparently, she was far beyond her time….who knew??

  26. Beckie says:

    There were’t any eggs on the milkweed I let grow near my yard (I think because of reading here a few years ago that it was the only thing Monarchs eat) but I do have a swallowtail caterpillar happily munching away on my parsley =)

    Really cool video!

  27. Tracey says:

    Cool video!
    I watched the series on raising your own monarch, maybe I should go watch them again…but I just don’t recall you saying when eggs should appear on the underside of milkweed. Ive been checking periodically but nothing yet. I live in Eastern Ontario. Do the monarchs lay all summer? I saw a monarch yesterday. But it was probably only the 2nd one I’ve seen this year.
    That silly Cuddles and her heirloom tomatoes…she’s no dummy!
    And we haven’t talked about her poop lately. Is it better?

  28. Su says:

    that’s cool.. I have planted milkweed to help the cause .., but have not seen any monarch’s this yr :(

  29. Beth W says:

    How long of a “season” do they have? I went away to Europe after your first posts and figured I’d be too late when we got back so I didn’t go out to check our milkweed. Might there still be eggs on there? Or would I be able to find caterpillars to bring inside to raise still? I’m in London ON.

  30. Leisa says:

    Just moved to Niagara this summer but I haven’t found any milkweed on our property…I did find two dead monarchs in the garden. Any idea where I can dig up some milkweed so I can try this next year?

  31. AmyKate says:

    Love this. Promise to post on my page where all of five people will see it! Lol. Thanks Ellen…I mean Karen. Missing butterflies..

  32. Jody says:

    Timing is everything! You’re just like Marlin Perkins but with an iphone. And a loupe. Good job.

  33. Tigersmom says:

    “I’m Ellen Degeneres.”

    Just more proof that watching your videos WITH the sound on is worth the risk of possible cardiac arrest from having the crap scared out of you.

    I appreciate you championing this cause. Monarchs are quite amazing once you get to know about them. The migration they do is quite epic.

    Go Cuddles!

  34. Sherry says:

    Glad to hear Cuddles is holding her own. Why should she eat pellets when she has all the other wonderful goodies??? She may be saying “Pellets…. Ick. All this special food……. YUM.”

    Would love to be part of the Monarch project but it’s just not possible in central Alaska. No milkweed. No Monarchs……

    Love your blog!

  35. Cathy Reeves says:

    What an amazing thing to watch after my s#*tty shift. Thanks for this– you are amazing and at least as tenacious as the little caterpillar. How can I help the cause and raise one? I have seen a half a dozen this year despite the fact my garden is nothing but weeds this year.

  36. Pam'a says:

    Seemingly not content with merely improving her own little corner, Karen has now decided to tackle saving the entire world. (I’m fairly sure she’ll succeed.)

    *This* is definitely Stuff worth Doing! :)

  37. Lisa says:

    I raised one set of Monarchs a few years ago. I cannot remember if it was that series of posts or your backyard that brought me here. BUT I have expanded my planting of butterfly weed every year since then and nothing.

    On the other hand, i have raised multiple generations of black swallowtails on my dill plants.

    This fall, I will expand my monarch butterfly weed planting AGAIN. because I really do care.

  38. kimber says:

    I LOVE this! What is the best month to find monarch eggs?

  39. Kat says:

    I did not realize that monarchs were that close to extinction. Thank you, Karen. As usual you totally rock!

  40. Denise says:

    sorry/not sorry LOL when you post on twitter # her!..and i feel like a proud auntie watching it emerge haha
    Glad Cuddles continues to mend. We are all emotionally invested in your life and pets/animals in a weird non stalker-ish kind of way

  41. Auntiepatch says:

    No video – how’s cuddles doing?

    • Karen says:

      ARggg! Sorry video’s up now. ~ karen! Cuddles is cuddling. Still not eating as well as I would like. Just won’t eat her pellets.

  42. Teresa J says:

    Me four with the video saying private. Hope you can resend it. Ditto on an update for Cuddles!

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Up and running now (both cuddles and the video). So sorry! ~ karen

      • Teresa J says:

        Thanks Karen, video is too cool and well done!! I hope Ellen calls you for a spot on her show!! Stayed up way late Friday night to watch the Secret Sisters! (No I do not have a PVR had to do it the old fashioned way and just stay awake!! )Loved them and will watch for them from my vantage here in Beautiful BC.

  43. Lauren from Winnipeg says:

    Unfortunately, when I click the video it says “undefined”.

    More importantly, is Cuddles still improving? I so need a happy ending for a pet this year (not to make it all about me, of course).

    • Karen says:

      Cuddles is the same as yesterday. Well but not eating her pellets unless they’re softened in water. Video’s up! ~ karen

  44. Denise says:

    oops, says the video is private..I am doing monarchs this year as well!

  45. Mel says:

    Oh no the video link doesn’t work. :( It says it’s private.

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