Just two days after I posted about the Monarch caterpillars in my butterfly garden the caterpillars are continuing to devour every leaf on several of my milkweed plants. One bite at a time, they chew up a leaf and move on to the next. In just a few days they have stripped some of the plants until there is nothing left but bare stems.
Yesterday morning I counted about 10 caterpillars. One had attached itself in the hose reel on the edge of the flower bed. It was preparing to transform into a chrysalis.
A little while later I settled down in my chair under the arbor to read a book. I was facing the hose reel but was so engrossed in the book I didn’t look up for about 30 minutes. When I finally glanced over at the caterpillar I saw that while I was reading it had become a chrysalis.
Today there are more caterpillars and less milkweed leaves. They will continue taking their bites until they are full grown and ready to transform into a chrysalis.
Meanwhile, there are still Monarch butterflies flying around in pairs doing their mating dance. I’ve had a hard time getting a picture but I managed to catch this one drinking nectar on a Mexican Sunflower.
I’ll be keeping my eye on the chrysalis and hope to see a butterfly emerge in about 7 to 10 days.
We are in the middle of the butterfly breeding season. I’ve seen pairs of Monarch butterflies flying around our yard recently and the females have been laying their eggs on milkweed leaves in my small backyard butterfly garden.
This morning I counted seven caterpillars on the milkweed including two different pairs munching on the leaves.
After about two weeks of eating, the caterpillar will be full grown and will make it’s crysalis. Approximately 10 days later the monarch butterfly will emerge.
Although most of the plants in my butterfly garden are finished blooming for the winter, some of flowering plants continued to bloom in late December and early January.
Mexican Sunflower in December
Hibiscus in December
Sunflower under bird feeder in January
The milkweed is blooming and attracting Monarch butterflies. Because Hurricane Irma destroyed my butterfly garden in 2017 there were no butterflies or caterpillars last winter. I replanted the garden in the spring of 2018 and in December, 2018 I was thrilled to find monarchs and caterpillars on the milkweed once again.
Two days later, this caterpillar had changed into a chrysalis.
I checked on the chrysalis every day. A week later, on New Year’s Eve, it was starting to change.
I continued checking on it daily and I could see subtle changes each day. Just when I knew it wouldn’t be long before a butterfly emerged, I found it lying on the ground the morning of January 5. We did some research on the internet to find out if there was anything we could do to save it. We tied it to a branch with piece of thread and let it hang in a jar. It’s been over a week since then and still there is no change.
I wish there had been a happier ending to this post. I’m sad to say that our butterfly didn’t make it.
I’ve been so busy lately with Thanksgiving, cleaning up after Hurricane Matthew, and getting ready for Christmas I haven’t had much time to look at my butterfly garden.
With all our Christmas packages and cards in the mail, I could finally catch my breath this morning so I went out to our porch to enjoy my second cup of tea. As soon as I sat down I saw a Monarch butterfly flitting around our milkweed. I abandoned my tea, grabbed my camera and rushed downstairs to get a picture. The butterfly took off but when I began to examine the milkweed I was excited to find several caterpillars munching away on the leaves.