David bought this milkweed plant last fall at H&H Nursery, and since then we’ve enjoyed not only its beautiful blooms, but the evolution of the gorgeous caterpillars that precede the monarch butterflies.
David has the best eye for spotting the tiny things—here is one he spied in its infancy.
Right now there are two tiny caterpillar brothers on the plant. (I’m not sure why I’ve assumed they are male.) We check on them daily and get nervous if we don’t see them, fearing they’ve been devoured by a lizard, wasp, or bird. Milkweed leaves contain cardenolides, a toxin that makes most creatures avoid the caterpillars. However, they’re not immune to prey.
When the caterpillar brothers grow up, they’ll look like this one that was on the plant for a while in November. For a few days we watched it, fascinated, until it vanished. I even gave it a name, Mitchell. We assume Mitchell went on to pupate, the next step before the brilliant monarch emerges. Nonetheless, we were bereft when he was gone.