Wet Cats! (Monarch Caterpillars)

| December 3, 2012 | 6 Replies

It’s been gently raining, on and off, for the better part of three days. The ground is soaked, and so are my cats. I go out several times a day to check on them, and count them. This AM, I found 13 caterpillars, five chrysalises, and one forming a chrysalis. About nine, like this one, are polishing off their last meals.

Monarch Caterpillar in Fifth Instar

Monarch Caterpillar in Fifth Instar Stage Eating Milkweed Leaf

Everything on the milkweed plant is consumed, leaves, flowers, stems, even the outside of the seed pods.

Monarch Caterpillar by Kaye Kittrell

Monarch Caterpillar Eating Tropical MIlkweed Seedpod

This one moved across the garden to a short wire fence where it will likely start to form a chrysalis.

Monarch Caterpillar by Kaye Kittrell

Monarch Caterpillar Hanging from Wire Fence

This is why the caterpillars usually move away from the milkweed plants before forming a chrysalis. There is a danger of getting pooped on! With up to a dozen large cats hovering above, chomping away, you are likely to get pooped on. This chrysalis is covered in rain-melted frass.

Chrysalis Covered in Poop

Monarch Chrysalis Covered in Rain-Melted Frass

I would have been happy to relocate it to the bush, where this one is forming now. You can already see the overall greenish cast. At this stage, there is still a bit of movement in the head and front legs.

Monarch Caterpillar First Stage Chrysalis

Monarch Caterpillar Forming Chrysalis

Tomorrow, it will be solid milky green, like this one, but lighter. It takes a couple of days to become this translucent green. I was amazed to see the cats (there are two in this bush) attach to one single thick strand of grass.

Monarch Chrysalis in Grass

Monarch Chrysalis in Mexican Feather Grass

It’s taking a long time for the butterflies to emerge from the older chrysalises. I’m sure they are waiting for a sunny, dry day to emerge. It’s hard enough for those wings to dry on a sunny day! And they can’t fly away from danger till the wings are dry. I haven’t seen a Monarch butterfly since the first one hatched and flew away. I feel sure when these small ones complete their stages, that will be it till next year.

Fourth Instar Monarch Caterpillar

Monarch Caterpillar Third Instar

I hope so, because most of the milkweed is bare stalks by now. Thanks for checking in. Are you planting milkweed for next season? – Kaye

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Category: Monarch Butterfly

Comments (6)

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  1. My, you get the caterpillars. The Monarch is such a beautiful butterfly too. Caterpillars have a tough life as birds are always on the hunt for them to feed their young.

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