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April 18, 2016 / Rae Spencer

Monarch Caterpillars, Milkweed, and a Publication Note

Monarch Caterpillar Sept 27

After our successful Monarch Butterfly experience in 2014, I spent much of last summer eagerly anticipating a new crop of caterpillars. Late in September, they arrived.

Monarch Caterpillar Sept 27

Despite the fact that the milkweed was beginning to die back in anticipation of fall, the caterpillars molted through multiple instars.

Monarch Caterpillar Sept 28

Unfortunately, none of the caterpillars survived to maturity. Over a period of three or four days, I found a few caterpillar bodies curled under the milkweed, but most simply disappeared.

Monarch Caterpillar Sept 28

Frustrated by this failure, I moved the milkweed into what I hope will be a healthier location. I also added seeds given to me by a friend. The seeds haven’t sprouted yet, but the yard’s old milkweed seems happy in its new surroundings. So I am once again eagerly anticipating a new crop of caterpillars.

Milkweed April 17

According to the Journey North tracking map, Monarch Butterflies have been sighted in South Carolina and Tennessee. Hopefully, by the time they get to Virginia, the yard will be ready!

 

Publication note: My poem “Metamorphosis” (inspired by our 2014 Monarchs) posted at Poetry Breakfast on April 12th. Many thanks to editor Ann Kestner!

2 Comments

  1. ProsperityAndCalamities / Apr 18 2016 11:30 PM

    I had milkweed once but we ended up with so many caterpillars that we didn’t have enough plants for all of them! I think I’d need a full yard of butterfly plants. Hopefully you’ll have better luck this time!

    • Rae Spencer / Apr 22 2016 3:43 PM

      It’s a bit like the Goldilocks story, isn’t it? I want the yard to always be just right, even though it rarely is… 🙂

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