Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Don't Kill Monarch Caterpillars

Monarch CaterpillarIn a newsletter I write, I included a photo of a Monarch caterpillar that we now have on a milkweed plant, which were planted for the Monarchs. We actually have several of them and I'm so excited to watch them grow fat. They start out very tiny and you can hardly see the colors that you see here on this adult.

After posting the photo, somebody emailed me heartbroken because she had just destroyed some of these caterpillars on her milkweed, which she had also planted for the Monarchs, but she was thinking of their final stage of life, not their beginnings.

Most people only think of the butterfly stage of a Monarch's life because it's the one always shown in photos, but the mission of a flying Monarch is to lay eggs for the next generation. The only plant species that they lay their eggs on are milkweeds. When we certified our Monarch Waystation, we already had them growing as a source of food for the caterpillars.

On the milkweed plants, the eggs turn into tiny but fast growing caterpillars until it's time for them to spin a chrysalis from which the butterfly emerges that is seen flying.

There may be others who have killed these caterpillars, so I thought I would include a photo so you could realize what a special caterpillar this one is. The coloring is like no other.

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