When Will the First Spring Generation Appear?
Make a Life Cycle Book for Ms. Monarch's Baby
Observations by Dr. Jim Edson
University of Arkansas at Monticello

Ms. Monarch

Ms. Monarch's Baby

Watch the Baby Grow!

Growth Calendar

Dr. Edson is keeping careful records for us. He is recording the date Ms. Monarch's oldest child reaches each stage of life. As the monarch changes from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis and adult, we can learn about the stages and timing of the monarch life cycle.

It will be fun to predict when Ms. Monarch's first child will fly away all on its own. Just think: one of her own babies might fly to your hometown this spring!

How to Make a Life Cycle Book for Ms. Monarch's Baby
  • Fold an 8-page accordion book. (See the folding instructions below.)
  • Use each page of your book for a new stage of the monarch's life. Here are the stages:
    1. Egg is laid
    2. Egg hatches into caterpillar at "1st instar"
    3. Caterpillar at "2nd instar"
    4. Caterpillar at "3rd instar"
    5. Caterpillar at "4th instar"
    6. Caterpillar at "5th instar"
    7. Chrysalis forms
    8. Adult butterfly emerges!
  • Record the date each stage occurred based Dr. Edson's records for Ms. Monarch's oldest child.
  • Make entries in your book: count the number of days the butterfly was at each stage, predict when the next stage will occur; wonder aloud, record questions, etc.
  • Draw each life stage (pictures coming later today!); measure and record the size at each stage, when possible.
  • When Ms. Monarch's child becomes an adult, your book will be complete. Because it is a circular book--the cycle will begin all over again with the egg when you flip the book.

Folding Instructions:
Start with an 8.5 X 11 inch piece of paper. Fold in half lenghtwise. Then cut along the fold. You have two pieces. Tape them together to make a long narrow strip.

As of March 30, 2006 the monarch caterpillar was in its 3rd stage of growth.

"I am keeping them in a little bit cooler area to slow down their metabolism so they don't eat so much," said Dr. Edson.

Dr. Edson

Some Life Cycle Terms

  • A caterpillar is also called a "larva."
  • Caterpillars go through 5 stages of growth.
  • Each stage is called an "instar".
1 2 3
Fold in half. Then fold each end to the center, as shown. This creates four equal pages.
Next fold the ends out to meet the outside fold, as shown.
Make the two remaining folds to make an accordion of eight equal-sized pages.

Final Step: Tape the front and back pages together. You will have an 8-page book.

Layout of the Book: On the front cover (page 1) draw a monarch egg. Use the next 7 pages for each of the stages as numbered above. The adult monarch will be on the back cover of the book. When the book is flipped over to the front cover, the egg will appear again. You can see the cycle go around and around each time you turn through the life stage pages.


  • For pictures of the monarch life cycle and to learn about "generations," see Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle: What is a Generation?
  • Your Own Baby Book: Did your parents or guardians keep a baby book as you grew? What key events did they record (your first smile, tooth, or steps)?