For our butterfly garden, we planted a bunch of Milkweed plants. We were fortunate enough to have tons of fat Monarch caterpillars on each plant. They came like that straight from this amazing nursery that we go to (Abell’s Nursery). They don’t spray pesticides. There are always butterflies fluttering around their plants.
After planting the milkweed, we counted 25 monarch caterpillars. There were most likely more since they hang under the leaves to eat. I was thrilled to watch these caterpillars much on the leaves. Their size indicated that they were within hours or days of forming their chrysalis.
Later that day, we went to check out the caterpillars. We noticed a large wasp hovering around the plants. Then, to our horrifying surprise, the wasp stung one of the caterpillars. White liquid squirted from the caterpillar and within a minute, the wasp had devoured the entire caterpillar. I was very upset and feared that the wasp would eat more of them. I thought about creating a cage around the plants to keep the wasps out, but we were busy that day and we went about our errands.
A few hours later, we returned home to find absolutely NO caterpillars on the milkweed plants. NOT ONE! I was heartbroken. These huge caterpillars only had a few days until they formed their chrysalis. At that point, I decided that I would start a little caterpillar nursery so that I could raise a few without wasp interference. Online, they sell pop-up mesh butterfly cases for $15.00 and up (plus shipping). I decided I couldn’t wait, so I went to Target and bought a pop-up mesh hamper and 3 milkweed plants.
The monarch butterflies definitely are laying eggs on our milkweed plants. I have already put 5 small caterpillars into the nursery. We released our second butterfly from the nursery this morning, and we have two that formed their chrysalis and the rest are still munching. Two have managed to disappear from spiders. I guess you can’t stop nature.
Here is a picture of my creation: