i must’ve blinked because i missed it… twice!
a while back i bought an Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed) that came with a few of its own Danaus plexippus (monarch) caterpillars. the guy who sold it to me was kind enough to throw them in for free. while i contemplated where to plant it (yes, these decisions can sometimes take several days) one of the caterpillars decided to build its pupa (or chrysalis) on one of the Asclepias’ leaves:
not wanting to disturb this stage of metamorphosis, i decided to forgo planting and instead heeled it into an empty space in the garden to help maintain the moisture level in the container. everyday i’d go check on her (yes, you can tell from a mark on the pupa if it’s a boy or girl butterfly) to see if there was any visible wing development. then i had to take a field trip to san antonio, and when i came back she was gone, just a shell of the pupa remained. happy trails to mexico, miss butterfly.
after that bittersweet discovery, i planted the Asclepias. a few days later i noticed four more big BIG monarch caterpillars munching on the now aphid-covered leaves. yippee, more chances to observe metamorphosis…
but after several days, i didn’t see a sign of them anywhere… did a bird eat them? no, supposedly birds don’t find them palatable. it wasn’t until we were working on turf elimination round one that we noticed a caterpillar in an upside down question mark hanging from a column on the front porch:
not an hour later when we came back from lunch, it had turned itself into a jade-colored beauty. amazing…
and then i noticed another, under the sill of the front door:
that was a week or so ago. when i went out to water some plants this morning and checked on them i gasped, as this was all i saw of them:
i missed them! oh, happy trails to you too… i hope you come back and visit. next time we’ll have even more Asclepias for you to munch on.
for more info on these lovely creatures, check out monarch watch.