After months of watering our milkweed plants and protecting them from other bugs, our long awaited caterpillars were born! We didn't even see the mommy monarch lay her eggs, but in mid-August tiny monarch caterpillars emerged. Barely the length of mommy's pinkie fingernail, the striped little monarchs were hiding on the undersides of the leaves.
The little monarchs knew exactly what to do. They ate and ate and ate. They did not try to wander from the milkweed plant. They knew that was the only food they should eat to grow bigger and fatter. If you got close to one, it would bob its little head at you as if to say, "Don't try to eat me! I may make you sick." No worries, little monarch, we are your friends. You are welcome here.
Periodically, the little monarchs would eat so much that they would stop eating long enough to shed their outer skin. When they emerged, they were a bit bigger and looked a little different from before. These mini stages of development are called instars. Monarchs go through 5 instars before they are ready to change into adult butterflies.
Even though monarchs are not tasty to a lot of animals, we discovered that they still had a couple of predators at our home, namely the wasp and an unknown insect that resembled a tick. The wasp would just swoop in and insert itself into the caterpillar and suck the life out of it! We lost a few caterpillars to predators before we figured out what to do. Mommy then wrapped the milkweed in insect screen and clipped it up tight, so predators could not get in.
Those caterpillars made a big mess on our porch with all their caterpillar poop - called frass. But it was lots of fun having a front row seat watching them grow from one instar to the next. Keeping them close also helped us monitor predator behavior. We were able to save many caterpillars by protecting them with the insect screen. 17 of them ultimately became adult butterflies.
Deuteronomy 8:3 says, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord." Just as eating the milkweed helps the monarchs grow from one instar to the next, eating God's word will help us grow into the people that God designed us to be. Eating God's word means reading it, memorizing it, thinking about it, accepting it, believing it true for you personally, and finally obeying it. When God's word becomes a part of us, we start to grow and look more and more like Jesus.