Monarch caterpillars in the garden


We are still busy raising the last group of monarch caterpillars we brought indoors when they were just eggs on milkweed cuttings.

We released this past weekend a total of four monarch butterflies, two females and two males.

Meanwhile, out in the backyard there are also monarch caterpillars on the milkweed, so far I counted nine. That still is a small amount compared to the amount of eggs that were laid on the milkweed leaves.

After a major aphid invasion on some of the narrow leaf milkweed plants, some of the leaves don't look that great. Aphids literally suck the vital fluids out of the leaves. The ladybugs have been doing their best to gobble up the yellow aphids, but then there are blackened aphid skeletons left on the leaves.

The caterpillar on the yellowing milkweed doesn't need to eat that particular leaf. There are a lot of fresh green leaves on the plant. Well, you just can't figure out what goes on in a caterpillar's mind.

In this image of one of the monarch caterpillars, the sun is so bright that you can clearly see some of the holes called "spiracles" on the black stripes all along the caterpillar's body. They look like little "o"s. The caterpillars obtain oxygen through these spiracles. The spiracles feed oxygen to air tubes that carry oxygen through the body.

I've never been able to see the spiracles on a monarch caterpillar until I took this image.

Here's a chubby little monarch caterpillar.

It looks like it is in its third instar.

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