Saturday, October 10, 2020

Monarch Catepillars

A Monarch Butterfly egg

I planted milkweed a couple of years ago, hoping to attract Monarch Butterflies.  I didn't see any until earlier this year when one came by to lay some eggs.  In the photo above you can see a tiny speck of an egg on the bottom of a milkweed leaf.

A very, very small Monarch Butterfly caterpillar

I was very excited when I found a number of eggs and they started hatching and I saw tiny little black, yellow, and white striped Monarch caterpillars. 

As the caterpillars started growing, I noticed that many of them simply disappeared without a trace.  I saw a yellow jacket eating one but I don't know if the yellow jacket killed it or happened across it after it died.

Some of them got quite large, but they also disappeared.  There seems to be something that eats them.  It wasn't uncommon for me to have half a dozen on a single plant and about one a day disappear until they were all gone. It is possible some of them crawled off to make a chrysalis, but I suspect most of them became dinner for something.  This photos are not of the same caterpillar, they are of many different ones.

Sometimes I'd have two or three Monarch caterpillars eating the same leaf.

Despite the heavy casualties, there were some successes, I'll talk about them tomorrow.

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