Monarch Caterpillar Conservation with Melissa: Part One

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By Melissa Cory

1M8A3125It’s that time of year again when the butterflies return and the flowers are blooming. Including a nice patch of milkweed that is growing in my yard. On June 7th, 2019 2 days ago I started noticing some little holes in the milkweed leaves. That usually means something (hopefully Monarch caterpillars) are eating them for nourishment. I took the time to carefully pull back the leaves searching for the little gems and sure enough, I found SEVEN!1M8A3127

I carefully broke off the Milkweed leaf and brought them into the house and put them in containers that I had previously purchased from the pet store. This helps protect the very small caterpillars from birds and other predators and gives them  Plenty of air and sunlight. I put a new milkweed leaf in daily after cleaning the container out as caterpillars do poop a lot! As they get bigger I will add a nice stick for them to crawl on as well. After they grow they make their way to the top of the lid, spin their silk and turn into a chrysalis and eventually, if all goes well, into a beautiful Monarch butterfly.

I hope you follow us on our journey although I must warn you, there are many things that can harm the process. Tachinid flies have been the main nemesis for us around my house. I have lost many caterpillars due to these pesky flies. When the Monarchs are eggs the Tachinid fly will lay their eggs on the Monarch egg and it will grow inside the caterpillar and eventually kill the caterpillar. So the process is not always a success, but I have had several success’. This is my third year helping Monarch caterpillars around my yard and I thought it would be fun to share the process with you all.  I have not seen a lot of the flies around right now so I hope these little ones will survive.  Stay tuned for updates!

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