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:
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.