At the end of April, we visited the butterfly garden that we planted at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve. We were ecstatic to see monarchs in the garden! Not only did we see monarchs but we gathered the eggs. At this time, I had no idea what we were getting into.
So the caterpillar nursery began. After about a week, twelve of the fourteen caterpillars came into the world. These hungry little guys ate and ate and ate! They initially measured a mere 1 mm long! After two weeks of nibbling away at the milkweed leaves, the caterpillars were about the size of my son’s pinky finger!
I started getting concerned that I would not be able to keep up with their appetites! They are veracious eaters. Initially, I thought that they would only eat the leaves, but the ended up eating every bit of each stalk of milkweed that I placed in with them. One afternoon, I started calling around to find milkweed to feed them, but lucky for me I found them forming Js at the top of the enclosure.
We even got to watch one of them form its chrysalis. It was absolutely amazing. Then for another 10 days or so, we had 12 gem-like chrysalis hanging in our kitchen.
We went away for the weekend and came home to an amazing sight!
We had several dark colored chrysalis and several butterflies! We observed them for a day and were entranced by their beauty. We watched several of them emerge from their chrysalis and grasp onto the edge of the chrysalis as they dried their wings. When all twelve had emerged and dried, we brought them out to the garden and released them. It was a bittersweet moment.
Hopefully, we will get the opportunity to find more eggs this summer so that we can tag them. Monarchs migrate to Mexico each year. The generation that we released will lay more eggs here and their offspring should be the ones to make the journey. We will let you know if we get to do it again!