Friday, April 11, 2008

Jail Break

It's officially spring.  The monarch caterpillars have hatched and are on the move.  This batch reminded me of the three escapees in "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?"   On this plant alone, I counted seven.  They are all on a plant that confused me when I first saw it.  I grew up thinking that monarch cats only fed on milkweed.  Well, they do.  This is a Mexican milkweed and it's beautiful.  I always thought there was only one kind of milkweed and it grew as a vine on my back fence in Missouri.  I loved when the seed pods would break open and the wind would scatter the feathery seeds to the skies.  I don't remember a flower, but there must have been one.  The flowers on the two kinds of milkweed I have here in Texas are unmistakable.

This is an Antelope Horn milkweed.  It grows as a low spreading plant.  The Mexican milkweed grows upright.  Obviously, other butterflies love milkweed as well.  The Gray Hairstreaks love the Antelope Horn, but don't care for the Mexican kind.  Maybe it's too spicy.  (Sorry, I couldn't resist) 

I've decided this year to leave the caterpillars alone.  Every year we have empty fish tanks of various shapes and sizes full of caterpillars.  The crysalis  stage is amazing to me.  I've always wondered about the beautiful gold dots across the top.  My kids have all held newly "hatched" monarchs, gently placed them on flowers, watched them dry and then take to skies.  It's still a miracle after all these years.

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea that monarch caterpillars only ate milkweed, unlike some other caterpillars that feast on veggie gardens.

    And milkweeds are really pretty. I had no idea. I especially like the one in the second photo, too.