Baby, Baby

My Very Hungry Caterpillar

For many years now, I've had a thriving butterfly garden.  (See my post from earlier this summer about my garden and how easy it is to plant and certify your own Monarch Waystation.)  And over those years, I've seen many a Monarch butterfly, flitting among the blooms.  But I had never actually seen the Monarchs laying eggs on my milkweed plants.*  And I had never seen a Monarch caterpillar.* Until this summer!  

* (I'm sure they've been there, doing just those things.  But I had never been there to see it.)

In July, I happened to be out in the garden and noticed a Monarch laying eggs.  I was thrilled!  (I posted this video on Instagram.)

And early last week, I found a very hungry Monarch caterpillar.


He's gone now . . . off becoming a butterfly!  I look everyday to try and find the chrysalis, but so far?  No luck.  If I do find it, though, it will be the true triumverate of butterfly gardening:  eggs, caterpillar, chrysalis.  (I'd be over the moon. . .

To celebrate my caterpillar, I thought I'd share three quick facts about Monarchs with you today:

  1. Monarchs can produce four generations during one summer. The first three generations will have life spans from 2 - 6 weeks and will continue moving north. During this time they will mate and have the next generation that will continue the northward migration. The fourth generation is different and can live up to nine months. These are the butterflies that will migrate south for winter.  (My caterpillar falls into this fourth generation.)
  2. In their larval stage, Monarch caterpillars feed almost exclusively on milkweed, and as adults, get their nutrients from the nectar of flowers. The monarch will always return to areas rich in milkweed to lay their eggs upon the plant. The milkweed they feed on as a caterpillar is actually a poisonous toxin and is stored in their bodies. This is what makes the monarch butterfly taste so terrible to predators.
  3. During their migration, Monarch butterflies can travel between 50 - 100 miles a day.  It can take up to two months to complete their journey to winter habitats.

Beautiful, fascinating creatures!  I'm so happy to share my garden space with them.


Be sure to visit Carole today -- to find more Three on Thursday posts.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Oooh! Love this post and all the info. I sit here at the table and have seen a Monarch flitting around the flower bed several times over the past few weeks. No way to tell but I’m positive it’s the same b’fly...just a feeling.
Enjoy the day!
Cheers ~


Very interesting. I had no idea about the several generations in just one summer!! Fascinating.


That is the best photo, and now I'm hoping for a chrysalis! Justin's fourth-grade teacher bought some for the class to hatch, but finding one in your garden would be so much better.


I love your very hungry caterpillar! He (she?) is gorgeous! And, I love your Monarch facts! I did not know much of that and I have learned so much today!


What an amazing photo!! (Also, the evoking of one of our all-time favorite children's books.)

Cheryl S.

Lucky you! I used to see them a lot when I was a kid in Pennsylvania. I don't think I've ever seen a Monarch caterpillar here in Utah. But then, we don't seem to get many Monarchs here. I don't think we're on the main migration path. Plus there aren't a lot of milkweeds here. I planted some in my yard this spring, and got a few plants. I'll be planting more either this fall or next spring.


I had a batch of milkweed that was in a place it didn't really belong but I was going to keep it (because of your earlier post). BUT I came home one day to find that Doug had ripped it out. I'm hoping it returns next year and it will stay! Thanks for the info today Kym!


I just love these creatures! So fascinating to see them emerge. Great photo of your very hungry caterpillar!


So cool, Kym - I've very happy you shared him(them) with us!


Looks like I need to plant some milkweed! Thanks for teaching us more about monarchs!


I have noticed several monarchs around my zinnias. Maybe I should add milkweed. Great information. I learn the best things when I read blogs.


Even the caterpillar stage is kind of pretty!


I hope, hope, hope you find the chrysalis because I want you to have a triumvirate!!


Nobody else has asked this question so maybe I've missed something? How did you know yours is a 4th Generation? By the lateness of the year? Even then.the first butterfly might have gotten a late start. Sorry to be a spoilsport about this, but I really want to know. Inquiring Chloe


P.S. That is one heck of a gorgeous caterpillar picture. Chloe


Very Nice.
On my list go to Pacific Grove, CA in October
during Monarch Butterfly migration.

Caffeine Girl

I am in awe of that photo. You have a great eye!

The comments to this entry are closed.