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Monarch caterpillars munching

At last!

I haven't posted anything about monarch caterpillars this year, until now.

Monarch mamas have been visiting the garden often since late May, laying eggs on the potted milkweed.

There were so many eggs and tiny caterpillars.

Unfortunately, they disappeared, probably eaten by wasps and other predators.

The caterpillars that did remain on the milkweed would grow through second and third instar, but died.

One caterpillar did make it to chrysalis stage, but the chrysalis looked discolored and the next day a threadlike filament several inches long was hanging from the seam near the top of the chrysalis. We removed it because it definitely was affected by OE Ophryocystis elektroscirrha.

Fortunately the monarch mamas keep laying eggs on the milkweed plants, and now there are some healthy caterpillars. There aren't many, maybe seven caterpillars. But it is very encouraging to see them grow and eat, and eat, and eat.

There are two who seem to be in fifth instar, the one in the photo above and the one below.

They are both munching on native Showy Milkweed.

Meanwhile, here is a monarch mama resting close by, on a tree fern frond.

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