We were blessed this summer to witness the Monarch Butterfly life cycle. Our East Central Florida backyard filled with milkweed lured in dozens of Monarchs. They drank nectar and laid eggs. The eggs hatched and caterpillars devoured the milkweed…several times!
Monarch Egg, under side of leaf
First they are very small and like to eat the milkweed blooms.
Then they start eating…
and eating…until all the milkweed leaves were gone.
After getting about two inches in length they crawl away and build a chrysalis.
Monarchs never build them on their host plants, and the chrysalis changes colors as the butterfly matures inside.
We watched wasp eat a lot of our monarch caterpillars.
We moved many caterpillars away from the vegetable garden to the other side of the house. For whatever reason the wasps never bothered the caterpillars eating milkweed on the northside of our home. On the south of the house, near the established garden, the wasp ruled.
We watched monarchs die from starvation as well. My six milkweed plants couldn’t sustain the demand.
When they do make it…it is such a beautiful sight to see a butterfly emerge in the early morning hours with wet wings! They would hang around and drink some nectar before flying away.
Our summer butterfly experiences taught us that the Monarchs butterflies are in trouble. They don’t have enough food! Milkweed is the ONLY food the larvae will eat. Humans have destroyed the milkweeds populations for their mass production agriculture, roadways, etc. For years milkweed has been sprayed as if it was a weed.
If you live in the Monarchs migration path, you should plant some milkweed!
Please check out MonarchWatch.Org!
Happy (Wildlife) Gardening!