We have been hosting monarch butterfly babies this past month.
The venture actually started about two years ago when a friend of ours sent us some milkweed seeds. I planted them in the spring of 2020. And waited …
“Why aren’t the monarchs coming?” I asked my friend.
Be patient, my friend said. They will find our milkweed patch eventually. It takes time.
Complicating the situation, the folks who take care of our yard maintenance would occasionally get overly enthusiastic with their weed pulling and pull out milkweed plants as well. Aaargh!
Fortunately the plants didn’t get pulled up by the roots and some grew back. And one of my sisters gave me three more plants to add to the ones I’d grown from seed.
To prevent further disturbances, Pete made this sign while I roped off the plants.
After a year and a half of not-so-patient waiting, we finally saw … EGGS! I was so excited, only to discover that OOPS! They weren’t monarch eggs at all, but aphids. Oh dear.
But then came a beautiful sight – a tiny caterpillar! Now I was really excited.
The caterpillar ate and ate and ate. And grew. And grew. And grew. It must have tripled in size in the space of a week.
After that, I saw more caterpillars. I ended up having six of them in all, busily munching away on the milkweed we planted for them. Those little guys are voracious eaters.
And then they began to wander off, one by one, to begin the pupa (chrysalis) stage. I spotted one of them crawling up the side of the house, looking for a safe place to turn into a butterfly.
At this point, I was SO tempted to snag one of them and bring it inside, so I could watch the transformation. But I resisted. My research tells me that it disrupts their ability to migrate if they are brought indoors for even a short period of time. So I grudgingly let them all go. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see where any of them went, so I’m just going to hope they’re safe!
The way I see it: I planted the milkweeds. God will do the rest.
Pete has been joking that I’m experiencing the “empty nest syndrome.” I just loved watching those little caterpillars grow. I miss them already, but hopefully I’ll soon get to see a few more monarch butterflies sipping nectar from the other flowers in my yard like this one in the photo above that I snapped last year.
To increase the possibility that I’ll get to host lots more caterpillars next year, I’ve ordered another sixteen milkweed plants to add to other flower beds.
I like to think of this project as “God’s work, our hands.”