Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Raising Monarch Butterflies

Thursday while I was outside feeding the animals and tending to my garden I saw a Monarch butterfly. I had been waiting to see one because I have a few milkweeds growing on our property. For those who don’t know, Milkweed is the only host plant for the caterpillar of the monarch. Several years ago I found Monarch eggs on a milkweed and took them in for my class to observe. We did something wrong because the chrysalis never hatched. I’ve always wanted to try it again. Thursday when I saw the monarch I knew there was a chance of finding eggs on the milkweeds. Sure enough within a few minutes of searching the leaves I found a leaf with not one, but two tiny eggs. I brought just that leaf inside and laid it on wet paper towels in a shallow dish. I covered it loosely to keep the moisture in, but still allow air to circulate. One of the eggs hatched that night, so we had a tiny caterpillar (about 1/8 inch) crawling around, and eating. The other hatched Friday. They spent the weekend eating and growing.
I took the photo on Thursday evening after the first one hatched. You can see a small white dot in the middle toward the top the the leaf. The first caterpillar is to the left and down a little. It's head is a black dot with a small cream body.

This photo was taken Sunday. The caterpillar really grew in just three days! It is starting to get stripes.

This photo was taken Monday. They are both on the same side of the leaf! The first hatched is to the right.

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