Last month, we found that the side of our house was swarmed by black and white striped caterpillars! They crawled up the siding, across the driveway, and all through my garden!
They were Monarch butterfly caterpillars, noshing on the milkweed plants that I had planted on both sides of the driveway. Within a week, they had stripped those plants of ALL green leaves, and were busy turning into calyxes, making them look like pale green stockings, wadded up into small neat packages. There were still a few latecomers that remained in the caterpillar phase, but we watched in amazement as these little green orbs attached themselves in the most curious places!
Last weekend we had an especially warm, clear day, which made the white siding simmer in the full sun. As if choreographed, any of the calyxes there turned translucent, and popped open, revealing gorgeous Monarch butterflies! Those five stretched and jiggled, and eventually lifted off to fly somewhat haphazardly into the air.
Sadly, one large fellow got caught in a spiderweb, in his struggle to be free. A little while later, I found him, entangled in the grey web, and called out to my neighbor, Chris. He came charging over, and gently picked up the eerily still insect. Ever so carefully, he pulled each tiny bit of fluff off. The poor unfortunate creature trembled very slighty, so Chris eased the wee morsel onto a patch of soft moss.
This morning I went out to check on the remaining ‘babies’. There had been an early morning delivery for Glenn from Eddie Bauer. That is when I discovered only 8 calyxes, and one dead butterfly. Undoubtedly he had just wriggled out of his sleeping bag, and clumsily fell to the ground. On his wings was the impression of treads from a workboot. Once again, he was settled onto the garden. We are willing to wait and see if Mother Nature has any tricks up her sleeve!
Now, I still have eight calyxes, as shown below.
As of today, I only see two remaining calyxes, so hopefully everyone else has flown off in search of more milkweed! I just ordered several bags of other kinds of milkweed!