It's that time of year again when we start hunting for Monarch caterpillars. The county mower come through and mow down the milkweed along the sides of the roads. So we collect as many monarch eggs and caterpillars as we can find before they come. Monarch caterpillars eat only milkweed, and the butterfly population is+ declining because so much of the milkweed is removed/destroyed by people who think it's 'just' a weed.
We love to raise monarchs inside, watch them transform and release them after they emerge as butterflies.
The first Milkweed plants we came across were covered with they guys. These are Milkweed Tussock moth caterpillars. They also love to feed on milkweed and can commonly be found devouring the leaves.
i lifted up another leaf and found this little snail hanging upside down. Milkweed is poisonous and very few critters can eat it, so i don't think the snail was munching on it..although i'm really not sure what it was doing.
i checked another leaf and found what we had come looking for! That tiny white egg belongs to the Monarch butterfly. :) We brought the entire leaf back home with us and stood the end up in some water so that it didn't just dry up.
After a few days we spotted this tiny newly hatched caterpillar beginning to munch. It is about 1/8" long.
Munch, crunch. Munch, crunch. It's getting bigger!
each day i replace the milkweed with a few fresh leaves. Yesterday when i picked a leaf there was a tiny caterpillar on it. So i brought it home to raise too. This weekend i'll take the kids hiking up the road and we'll bring back any that we find. i'll be sure to show pictures of their transformation and release.