Moving right along

WHO IS EATING MY MILKWEED?Milkweed

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.Munch

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?Itsyou2

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10 responses to “Moving right along

  1. Whatever sex he/she is, it’s gorgeous! The caterpillar is quite handsome as well.

  2. Do you mean his bottom smile or his top smile?

  3. FC- right. That’s sort of unclear, except I think the bottom end is the front end. 🙂 We need Ol’Hoss to weigh in on buttcrack…

  4. Oh to be someplace warm where caterpillars are already doing their caterpillar thing, and monarchs emerge from their chrysalis, as beautiful as flowers in spring. Wonderful photographs, vicki.

    Have you ever checked out Bev at Burning Silo? She’s got some amazing posts from last fall when she photographed the monarchs in all of their stages, including the chrysalis and eclose.

  5. I’ve seen a big fly up here!! OK, I told you what lens my brother got me for my birthday, now what macro lens do you use. I have this on my wish list.

    Oh, look, I can write a short comment. (wink)

  6. You know how jealous I am that you’re being visited by butterflies and caterpillars now, right?

    I hope you get to see the process of the cat making its chrysalis and then waiting for it to emerge – it’s great fun and the so amazing the watch the changes. The chrysalis seems to do nothing for a week or two and then all at once it starts to change and you know that something even more beautiful is to come.

    I need to see the upper part of the wings to be able to know if it’s a male or female. The male has a spot in the central part of each of the lower wings. Have a look at Bev’s photos or mine from early September.

  7. Sorry for the typos in that second paragraph – my fingers get ahead of me sometimes.

  8. Me and my brown thumb. I had a mini-rose bush. One morning I saw a big grasshopper sitting on the plant. Thought nothing of it. Came home. There was not a single leaf, rose petal or anything left on the plant. It was a twig.

  9. Vicki, your photos are SO GOOD! I’d love to know what camera you use. And thank you, thank you for the tip on attracting butterflies. We’ve been living here for a little over a year now and I need ideas for plantings around the pond, well, actually, everywhere!

  10. Hmmm. I thought the male’s ‘spot’ could be seen on the underside of the lower wing as well as the top side. I’d call this female. I’ve tagged monarchs for identification in the event they’re retrieved again. You rub off a small area of scales on both sides at the edge of the lower wing and attach a tiny adhesive paper tag. It was so amazing to see the translucent ‘window’ you create.

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