Ken and I had to take this Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) with us to Florida on a "hurricane Ivan clean-up trip" (Oct. 2004) as a chrysalis because I knew it would emerge before I got back home. It came out of the chrysalis in the container when we got to northern Alabama. We stopped at a rest stop near Gadsen and I released it on some goldenrod flowers.
She was lucky, she got a 200-mile head start on her siblings in Oak Ridge! This beautiful little lady will fly to Mexico over the next few months to overwinter in the pine trees in the mountains outside Mexico City. If she makes the journey and survives the winter, in late February she will mate and begin the flight back north. She will lay her eggs in northern Mexico or southern Texas in March. After laying her eggs she will die. Her offspring will then fly on to places farther north about a month later, such as Oak Ridge, and in late April my students will enjoy watching their caterpillars go through their lifecycle! :)