We have an ornamental milkweed plant growing in our garden. Milkweed is the host plant for monarch butterflies. You can learn all about monarchs here. The caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed. I like butterflies, so I don’t mind if they eat my plant. We even mow around the wild milkweeds to provide food for them.
Last week I counted at least 15 caterpillars on the one plant. The caterpillars have been growing fat and happy, the plant isn’t faring as well. When I checked it tonight, there were only a few scrawny leaves left. I was afraid the 8 caterpillars that I found on there would starve. So I rescued them. Here is their life raft:
I moved them to some of the wild milkweeds out in our prairie garden. Don’t they look happier in their new home?
Oh, look what I found on the plant they were on originally:
That is a chrysalis. The caterpillar forms this around itself, then in about 10 – 14 days the butterfly will emerge – magic! It’s hard to see in the photo, but there is a line and some spots on the chrysalis which are gold. Actual shiny, 14 carat looking gold. Nature really is quite amazing.
We started the prairie garden about 4 years ago. I don’t like lawns much. You water them and fertilize them so they will grow, then you have to mow them. Does that make sense??? I don’t mind a bit of lawn around the house, but I don’t like 3 acres of it. So we are trying to turn part of the yard back into native prairie. Right now some of the coneflowers are blooming:
Aren’t they prettier than grass?