Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Monarch Caterpillars

When the little kids were in preschool, we were asked to keep an eye out for monarch butterfly caterpillars. They school thought it was a fun activity to keep them in class, and then release the butterfly when it emerged from it's cocoon. Thus begun an obsession for me. I also thought that would be a fantastic thing to watch, so I took up the cause with passion.

I spent 5+ hours a week, closely inspecting every milkweed plant I came across, looking for monarch caterpillars. You'd think I would've found one easily, but I went FOUR YEARS and never saw one. I didn't look for them much unless it was August or September, but every August, I'd start watching for them, and give up when the frost hit in October.

After the kids graduated preschool, I didn't look as carefully, but I couldn't walk past a milkweed plant without glancing at the leaves to see if they appeared to be nibbled on or not.

My good friend Jackie remembered this quirk. She called me yesterday to tell me that while camping, she'd found NINE of the beauties, and did I want a couple? OF COURSE!!! She came by yesterday and dropped off three. I was almost beside myself with giddiness.

When I woke up this morning, I saw that the milkweed leaves looked a little wilty, so I knew I needed more. Because of my longstanding obsession, I knew just where to find a bunch, so I headed off to the nearby walking trail to grab some leaves and hurry home before the little kids woke up and M had left for school.

I got to the clump of milkweed leaves and as I got closer, I couldn't believe my luck! Sitting there on a leaf was a caterpillar!!!  I carefully plucked it's leaf, as well as a few others. Then..... OH MY GOODNESS! ANOTHER caterpillar! I was shocked that as soon as I quit looking, I found two.  I grabbed them both and took them home.

One of the caterpillars has already started to spin it's cocoon. I can't wait to watch the whole process.

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