monarch caterpillars in the backyard!
Two months ago I purchased a small narrow leaf milkweed plant from Annies Annuals https://www.anniesannuals.com/
Every year for the past 12 years I have planted milkweed seeds and bought milkweed seedlings hoping a monarch butterfly would lay her eggs on the plants and we could help nourish them.
We were lucky about 10 years ago, when a monarch butterfly laid eggs on a narrow leaf milkweed plant growing in the backyard.
We ended up raising and releasing two butterflies, both female.
After that year, we see now and then monarchs flying around the garden, but no caterpillars to be found. So you can imagine my surprise to discover two large monarch caterpillars munching on our small milkweed plant, which currently is 8 inches tall. One is in the image above, and the other one below.
Yes, those pesky yellow aphids also love the milkweed, but they don't harm the monarch caterpillars.
But, just to be sure that no predators harm these caterpillars, I covered the entire pot where the milkweed is growing, caterpillars and all, with a soft fine mesh.
If you look closely, you can see the caterpillars next to each other at an angle, in the center of the pot, between the bamboo poles. I used two arched bamboo poles, purchased at our local plant nursery, and crossed them at the center to provide strong support for the mesh fabric.
The caterpillars seem very happy, munching the milkweed leaves, and exploring by crawling on the mesh and up down the bamboo poles.