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More monarch caterpillars, oh my!

September 22, 2017

 

Look what I found on one of our Narrow Leaf Milkweed plants this morning.

 

I couldn't believe my eyes when I discovered this monarch caterpillar and another one half of its size on another leaf. This one might have gone into third instar because it has been motionless the whole day. The other caterpillar is half the size of this one. It is also motionless so maybe it is starting to go into third instar.

 

The caterpillar here is currently about 3/4 inch long.

I took this photo in the early morning, when colors in nature aren't so distinct and bright.

 

We immediately got out some clean bridal veiling to cover the plant over bamboo arches that act as frames, to protect the caterpillars from wasps and also keep away those pesky orange aphids that suck the juices out of the milkweed leaves.

 

Instead of taking the caterpillars indoors and just feeding them the milkweed leaves, I like to leave them on the plant so they can crawl around until they turn into chrysalises. Since we grow the milkweed plants in large flower pots, we just make sure the plant is covered with bridal veil mesh fabric held up by the bamboo arches and then we clamp the fabric at the ends so there are no openings around the sides and bottom.

 

To water the plant I can open the clamps to open the veil mesh just enough to pour in water to moisten the soil.

 

As long as the weather is nice the caterpillars will be safe outside.

Otherwise we will bring the covered plant indoors.

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