So I was just checking the second narrow leaf milkweed plant on the patio, and look what I discovered. More monarch caterpillars!
This is a closeup of one of the caterpillars I discovered.
It actually is about 5/8 inches long.
And when I checked the plant even more closely I saw at least four more caterpillars.
They are smaller than this one.
We can't believe how many eggs the mama monarch butterfly must have laid on both milkweed plants. In total we are now monitoring more than a dozen monarch caterpillars.
One from the other group has already been in chrysalis mode for the past two days.
And a second one of the seven in that group is now in the "j" form.
The main issue right now is cleaning those pesky aphids off the plants.
They suck the juices out of the leaves.
So we worry about not having enough milkweed for all of the caterpillars.
The group of five caterpillars that I found on this second milkweed are now safely indoors in a makeshift home made of a smaller rectangular plastic storage container about 12 inches long by 6 inches wide by 3 inches deep. We used strong tape to attach an arched bamboo pole on two sides of the container. Then we draped some bridal veil mesh over the arch, and used a bungee cord to hold the veil firmly in place around the container edges.
We left an opening on one side so that we can access the inside of the container to clean it of caterpillar poop "frass" and replenish the milkweed leaves for the caterpillars to eat.
I took a clean half pint take-out plastic container that has a lid and filled the container half-way with fresh water. Then with an awl I poked a hole in the middle of the lid, just large enough to accommodate the thickness of a milkweed branch.
Then I cut a milkweed branch, about 6 inches long, and stuck it in the hole of the container lid.
I put the this container inside of the storage container.
We then carefully removed the caterpillars from the large milkweed plant, by cutting off the leaves on which they were resting.
The leaves with the caterpillars were then placed on top of the lid of the half pint plastic container which is holding the milkweed branch.
Within half an hour all of the caterpillars found their way up the milkweed branch, each on a separate leaf.
We'll be changing the milkweed branches as the caterpillar devour the leaves.
Here is the milkweed plant.
You can't tell from this photo unless you look very closely, that there are aphids scattered throughout the plant.
I clean them off with a cotton swab, then crush them between my fingers.
Desperate measures being taken here!