Sunday, May 1, 2011

Monarchs in the Milkweed Patch!

Early instar of Monarch Caterpillar on Asclepias curassavica
Monarch Caterpillars on A. curassavica.  How many do you see?
Four Monarchs munching - they are running out of leaves.
When the leaves are gone, but you're still hungry, gnaw on the stem. Monarch Caterpillar on A. curassavica.
Ultimate Instar of Monarch Caterpillar, Ventral View
Finished Monarch Chrysalis &  another caterpillar in J-Stage, preparing to shed skin and form chrysalis.
Newly eclosed Monarch
     Yay!  Monarchs! They are the reason we plant milkweed (Asclepias spp.) They are having such difficulties that I am thrilled when they can rest, refuel and reproduce in my garden & my Milkweed Patch.  I am a registered Monarch Waystation; perhaps they see the sign?
          A nice brood developed in mid-December. It was probably too early for butterflies to be migrating north from Mexico, so I believe it was a year-round resident female monarch who visited.   Alas, the day several adults eclosed (hatched), we had unusual, record-breaking, freezing weather that lasted for days.
     By the end of March, another female monarch found my milkweed.  How do they find it, I wonder?  A nice bunch of caterpillars grew fat munching on the fresh milkweed. We counted eight jade-green chrysalides suspended from the soffits;  there were surely more in the shrubbery or on the flowers that we did not see.
     Safe journey north, little guys.

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