Sunday, October 14, 2012

Welcome, monarch caterpillars!

I've been growing milkweed (Asclepius for those who like their botanical names) since we moved into our house two years ago, hoping that some hungry monarch butterflies would stop by, chow down, and lay their eggs.  But alas, no monarchs ever found my monarch fast food joint.  Today, however, my husband rescued an injured native bird, which we took to Wildwings. The folks who run Wildwings had a patch of milkweed near their front door, practically covered in monarch caterpillers.  When they found out I have milkweed, they gave me four of the cute little guys, which have now settled into their new dining hall.  You can see them in the lower part of the picture above.  Aren't they adorable?

For those who don't know, monarch butterflies are gorgeous orange and black butterflies, some of whom migrate thousands of miles every year.  When I was a kid in California's Central Valley, they were common as dirt, because milkweed (the only food their caterpillars can eat) was common as, well, a weed - because that's what it was.  Now that so much land has been built on here in CA, milkweed isn't so common, and the magnificent monarch is much more rare.  Home gardeners can help by planting milkweed, so monarchs will have a place to lay their eggs, and their babies will have something to eat.

You can learn more about monarchs at or, for kids, a neat page on Kidzone about monarchs.  If you want to grow milkweed, you can buy seed on Amazon or EBay.  I got mine from Renee's Garden Seeds.  Just go to this page and scroll down to Asclepius.

Here's one more pic, a closeup of one of our caterpillars.  I hope he inspires you to plant some milkweed next spring.

No comments: