It all started in late July when I spotted tiny Monarch caterpillars
on common milkweed plants. It was an exciting find because
I have been looking every summer and I have never been able to find them. Not one.
In mid August I spotted my first egg and then another and another.
My eyes were definitely open to seeing and I saw them everywhere!
So, I decided to raise them.
I started with six eggs which all hatched, however one did not make it past four days.
For two weeks I fed five caterpillars fresh common milkweed leaves daily.
They ate a lot, pooped a lot of frass and molted five times in that two week period.
They grew from 1/8 inch to 3 inches! They were fat cats!
One by one they stopped eating, climbed to the top of my enclosure and made a little silk
from which to hang. Eventually they hung upside down in a J position,
a sign that they were starting to pupate and enter the third stage of life as a chrysalis.
Finally, they molted one last time. Wiggling out of their old skin.
Over a period of several hours the shape transfomed into a pupa or chrysalis.
If you look closely, the pupa is imprinted with the future butterfly wings.
This phase was extraordinary to watch and I posted a video to my Facebook page.
These tiny jade jewels are flecked with gold. Such a thing of beauty.
We are waiting and watching now. Perhaps in seven to ten days we will have butterflies.
Stay tuned for an update!
If you are interested in helping to save the Monarchs,
either by planting milkweed and nectar plants,
or raising them next season,