When the children were little they enjoyed that book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I specifically planted milkweed in the area of my yard where I have plants that will attract birds and butterflies. Milkweed is the plant of choice for Monarchs; the caterpillars live on a steady diet of milkweed and consume much of a plant in fairly short order. The plant will grow new leaves later in the season and I’m also collecting seeds from the pods and I’ll try to grow some more.
It didn’t take long for before it was discovered. I like this photo of the caterpillar; you can actually see him munching away and he looks quite pleased, yes? He has sort of a cheshire "cat"erpillar grin, I think.
This caterpillar is large enough to be on his fourth or fifth skin. They shed five times before leaving the milkweed for some discreet place, up to 40 feet away, where they go into their chrysalis stage. I have yet to find a chrysalis- and I’ve been watching closely- so I guess they are doing a good job of hiding themselves.
In two weeks or less, they have transformed from a barely visible caterpillar to a full grown monarch butterfly. I know that there are various life cycles in progress around here because I have caterpillars of all sizes at the same time that I have monarchs. Puzzler: Is this a male or female monarch butterfly?