The Monarch's Metamorphosis
Monarchs reach sexual maturity in the spring and begin mating all along their return migratory route from Mexico. The adult monarchs who made the trip down to Mexico in the fall don't make it all the way back to the U.S. it's their offspring who continue the cycle.
The complete life cycle of the butterfly is known as metamorphosis. The monarch goes through four stages of life: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly.
Click on the image of each stage to learn more about it.
Most butterflies, including monarchs, lay their eggs singly, one egg per leaf on specific plants.
The caterpillar remains on the plant where the egg was laid and feeds.
When the caterpillar molts for the last time, it forms a chrysalis. The body of a butterfly forms inside the chrysalis.
After about 14 days, the adult monarch butterfly emerges from its crysalis.