Himself cultivates a good size area of milkweed, both cultivated and wild. He does this for the Monarch butterflies. The Monarch lays her eggs on the sprouted milkweed. In five days, the eggs hatch into tiny yellow, black and white banded caterpillars.
The caterpillars eat enormous quantities to grow 2,700 times their original size in only two weeks. In three weeks the caterpillar will enter the pupa stage and then an emerald green chrysalis. Two weeks later the beautiful Monarch appears.
The Monarch milkweed relationship is quite ingenious, as the plant’s “milk” is acidic and poisonous to some animals. A monarch caterpillar feeds solely on milkweed, absorbing this poison to last its lifetime, making the Monarch foul tasting to most predators.
2013 was a very poor year for Monarchs. Scientist believe it as a result of drought and an absence of milkweed plants. (See Globe and Mail Article) Not one Monarch graced our milkweed plants.
Last weekend Himself and my son in law spotted a couple of butterflies amongst the milkweed, making us very hopeful. This weekend our milkweed was a flutter with butterflies.
Help these little guys out by planting or cultivating milkweed in your garden.