Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Quick! Grab the Tulle and a Camera!

When I went out this morning to see if the little monarch caterpillar was still there, I didn't see it at first and was disappointed that something had gotten it before I could get tulle over the milkweed plant. However, I was determined to search the plant and was delighted when I finally found not one, but two caterpillars. The one my daughter had spied last night was hiding on the underside of a leaf and there was a smaller one under another leaf on a different stalk. The sun was quite bright and it was difficult to see (should have grabbed my sunglasses, but time was short, so I squinted), but it appeared that there were some eggs on a few other leaves. As usual, the camera on the cell phone in my pocket was the closest available photographic device.

This isn't the greatest shot (click to enlarge), but I was in a hurry to get the tulle over the milkweed before any marauding wasps or other critters could get to the caterpillars. I had to get ready for work, so my time was limited.

Oops! In my hurry to get things finished and get ready for work, I cut the top off the milkweed in this shot. You get the idea. There is another milkweed plant in the flowerbed on the other side of the porch, but I didn't really have time to look closely for caterpillars. I decided it would be better to leave that one uncovered for any monarchs that might come by looking for a snack. This is the first year I've planted milkweed and I'm not sure how many caterpillars my limited supply can sustain, but perhaps I can save a few from predators so that they can mature and make the trip down to Mexico. I don't think I have anything on the agenda in the morning, so I hope to have more time to look for caterpillars and eggs before going to work.

I'd like to give my daughter a big thank you for spotting that caterpillar last night. You got some good eyes, Girlie Girl!


  1. Great job bunnits!! Is your milkweed a "butterfly weed"? Do you know the name of it? I think I would like to get some for next years gardens!

  2. Good thinking with the tulle, hope those little guys grow into beautiful butterflies. It will be fun to watch them become what they are meant to graceful. Smile today. :)

  3. What a team! Way to go - keep us posted!

  4. Eve, the orange milkweed, also known as "butterfly weed" (not to be confused with "butterfly bush")is asclepias tuberosa. Here is a site that sells several varieties of milkweed plants:

    The one in my photo is Tropical milkweed (asclepias curassavica) that I bought at Earth Touch located in Huntsville behind Old Gin Carpets near the intersection of Whitesburg and Weatherly. I had tried to find some of the orange, but no one I knew had any, it was too early for seed pods when we were up on the farm in Tennessee back in May, and my efforts to extract plants from the ground without digging tools were unsuccessful. I gave up and went to Earth Touch. Now a neighbor up the street has some pods I can get from her. I can probably wrangle a few for you if you are interested. Also, mine are beginning to form pods, so I'll save you some.

  5. Oh, the butterfly bush is Buddleia davidii.

    Unfortunately, the big caterpillar died. I'm about to do a new post and a couple of photos.