Monday, August 24, 2009

Follow the poop

The Milkweed Experiment is a success: I noticed something had been eating the leaves and took a closer look. Caterpillar poop!
Two tears ago I managed to grow one milkweed plant from a handful of seeds. It only grew a few inches tall before winter, but came back like Jack's Beanstalk last year: crazy robust growth but no flowers. And no monarchs.

By this spring, the milkweed had spread, sending up eight or nine shoots! I had to stake them (they're planted right at the corner of a raised bed where the neighbor's downspout overflows constantly, and in heavy rain anything growing there can get shredded) but they thrived, blooming heavily and sending out a half-dozen warty outer-spacey seed pods:
Today, I took a good close look and found two caterpillars munching away: one smallish (pictured below) and another about as big as my index finger (the big caterpillar had tucked inside a curled leaf by the time I had come back with my camera, so no pic yet). We're going to keep a close watch on these guys--hopefully will get pics of a chrysalis soon.

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