Figured you're all some folks who'd appreciate this not only as the extremely cool window into nature that it is, but also that other window of metaphor of the chrysalis.
Today we went up to la po's 'home for shorties' to check in on the monarch butterflies her class has raised from tiny larvae to plump and juicy, big-time poopin'-machine caterpillars, to pupae hanging in chrysalis'. They start out feeding on exclusively milkweed leaves - and lots of them, hence, the immense quantities of poop. They fatten up big, then attach themselves hanging upside down in a 'J' shape.
Next, the really trippy stuff happens: they split their backs open. They don't manufacture their chrysalis like a cocoon, they SPLIT THEIR BACKS OPEN!!! Somehow the chrysalis emerges from out of their big ol' juicy backs and wraps around and encloses them. The bright green chrysalis' then develops gold drops decorating the edges. They are truly one of those golden-magical corners of nature:
They've been growing in there around two weeks now; you can see in the single chrysalis below, the butterfly wings faintly showing through the stretched surface.
They will emerge this coming week, pump their wings, pumping fluid [butterfly blood?] through the wing frames. The wings stiffen up and then take flight.
more info: Journey North Monarch Butterfly Migration http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/