Welcome our Monarch caterpillars! We are observing oodles of black, yellow, and white striped caterpillars munching away on our multitudes of Milkweed (Asclepiascurassavica) plants. Three reasons why Monarchs butterflies populations are dwindling: milkweed, milkweed, & milkweed! Our under used star is the host plant for 3 Florida butterflies Monarch, Queen, and Soldier. A HOST PLANT is the one plant that each species of butterfly will lay their eggs on and is essential for their survival. Mother Monarchs utilize Milkweed to lay oodles of single elliptical whitish to pale green eggs right on the underside of its leaves. We are now enjoying watching our newly hatched caterpillars grow big and plump. Eventually, the caterpillars grow larger and fatter and one day travel to a safe spot and begin their chrysalis and metamorphosis. Remember butterfly gardeners have to re-evaluate pesticides as their use will interrupt the life cycle of the butterfly which is egg, larva, pupa and butterfly.
Fingers crossed, in about two weeks we will be mesmerized by fluttering Monarch butterflies all around our gardens.
Want to learn more about butterflies? Don’t miss the 11th Annual SWF ButterflyConference, Saturday Nov. 5, 2011.