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Monarch caterpillars still munching on our milkweed

We are trying hard to help the monarch population by growing some native milkweed plants in large pots around our patio. And my main focus is growing their nectar plants.

This monarch caterpillar photo is from a few weeks ago, as the caterpillar in its fifth instar munched nonstop.

It is on a small Showy Milkweed plant Asclepias speciosa 'Davis' that was growing from the ground, next to a large pot with the mother milkweed plant. This milkweed was only a few inches high, and within a day the caterpillar ate every bit of it down to the nub.

Then the caterpillar disappeared, off to form its chrysalis, somewhere in our backyard.

Currently I've only seen one monarch caterpillar in third instar, favoring the Narrow Leaf Milkweed Asclepias fascicularis.

Most of the monarch caterpillars perished either while still in second or third instar or before they reached chrysalis stage. Sometimes the little caterpillars simply disappear, possibly killed by spiders or other natural predators.

Poor monarchs. Monarch mamas keep laying eggs, but due to disease or affects of pesticides on the monarch parents, only very few of their offspring survive.

The monarchs still visit daily, usually one at a time, and sometimes in pairs.

This is a monarch mama laying eggs on Davis Showy Milkweed.

I always say "hello" to the monarchs whenever they appear in our garden.

They then fly in circles around me, either zipping quickly or fluttering past my head.

Maybe they know I'm trying to help them?

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