Thursday, April 28, 2011

Plant it and they will come!

I didn't even have all of the plants in the ground yet. Last Saturday the Monarchs arrived and laid eggs on my puny milkweed plants. This seems a bit ahead of schedule, but according to some sources, the crazy storms we've been having lately have blown the Monarchs further north than the plants were ready for. Hopefully there will be enough leaves for the caterpillars to eat, I may have to move them from plant to plant as they feed.

By the way, in case you don't know what I'm talking about, Monarch butterflies only lay their eggs on plants from the milkweed family. The caterpillars then eat the leaves (which are poisonous, in turn making them poisonous to predators), grow, from a chrysalis, and voila! morph into a butterfly. Google it, it's awesome!

Consider adding some milkweed plants to your garden to help the threatened Monarch butterfly!

My eggs hatched yesterday, photos were nearly impossible. The tiny baby caterpillars are smaller then a grain of rice at this stage.

Can you find it? Look in the top center, this one just barely shows its stripes.


  1. How exciting!! How sweet you are looking out for them. I smile at the possibility that the offspring of the butterfly growing inside of this little one may fly all the way to my gardens in late May or early June, to find the Milkweed here. ;>) Thank you for sharing these.

  2. In the coming weeks, after the monarch reaches it's adult stage, lookout for a similar organism that can be difficult to tell apart at times.

    The viceroy, although not poisonous as it does not ingest the usually toxic steroids within the milkweed, looks strikingly similar to the monarch.

    I'm not exactly sure of the evolutionary relatedness of the two, but I think the traits are homoplasious, not homologous, which in my opinion, makes it even cooler!

    ps. Great stuff! Really interesting read. =]

  3. Yeah! Homoplasious traits are way cooler than homologous traits.

  4. Great to see your tiny monarch caterpillars. Last year I found the first on our butterfly weed. I didn't discover them while that small though. This year I'll keep my eyes open for them...although you are quite a bit ahead of us here in PA.

    FYI, I recently read that the viceroy is also bad tasting to birds, so it is not a case of mimicry as originally thought.