Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Monarch Larvae!

I've been checking the milkweed leaves on our many plants for monarch butterfly eggs and haven't found any yet. However, Last Friday I found 3 monarch larvae and the next day I found 5 more! Basically, I looked for holes in the leaves and found the little guys. I figure they had only been hatched a day or two. I found them before another bug ate them or they ate each other. They were about 1/8" long.
In three days they had almost tripled in size - almost 3/8".
I give them fresh milkweed leaves every day that I've rinsed off and keep the stem in just a little bit of water to keep the leaf fresh. So as not to disturb the larva, I just snip around it on the old leaf and stick it onto the fresh one.
I've also been harvesting the whole stem where I've found more than one larva and have stuck the stem into water. They'll munch away until they've consumed most of the leaves or until the leaves get droopy and stale.
Today, 2 days later, the chubby guys are almost 3/4" long - double their size from Monday.
I also saw the shedded skin from one of them today, which I think it ate. The larvae will shed about 5 times - the last time just as they're becoming a chrysalis.

The larvae will continue to develop for about another week before turning into a pupa (chrysalis).

I haven't seen any monarchs in the yard, much less laying any eggs, but I continue to inspect the leaves for eggs every day or so.

Last year I only got two through to adulthood - my lowest count in all the years I've done this. I'm thrilled to have 8 larvae already.

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