Monday, July 7, 2014

The Butterfly Project Update


The butterfly project has exceeded all of my expectations. I planted 11 milkweed plants in order to supply the Monarch Butterfly population with food and a place to lay eggs, just doing a little crumb of a my part to help bolster their ever dwindling populations. I also did it to see if it would be successful and for my own curiosity. 

*laying eggs

 The plants started out quite pretty and soon they were populated with small caterpillars…

who grew and grew ( their munching is sometimes audible like if you click your thumbnail and middle fingernail, try it :)

They were stripping the plants bare then they'd move to the next and the next one was already hosting a number of them.

I can't help but think of the Walking Dead, these little crawlers are like zombies moving slowly and devouring.

Things I have observed and questions I hope to solve..

Our lizards get excited when they see them but they must know the caterpillars are filled with toxic milkweed because they don't want to eat them. I'm not sure about the birds. 

I'm not planting any more weeds this year, in the wild they are but dotted on the hillsides so I'm going to see if they can recover.

The larvae have eaten all the fresh seeds and pods from the African plant causing it I would think not to be able to procreate. Our native milk weed develops seeds much later in the season.

I'm thinking once all the vegetation is gone the caterpillars will move to the trees and bushes and begin the next part of the cycle which is another reason I'm limiting the supply.

This one already has!!!! How wonderful is this!!!

Mama was back today laying eggs on the twigs. Next year I will plant more milkweed. If you live here in CA the best time to install native plants is in the fall. It's no too late though to add some to your garden, I suggest you add more than you might think.

I think the spiders are getting jealous, I had never thought to dust the mobile since I never saw the dust by the light of the day……look!…….spider art…..I sort of love that they are getting into the act!

Happy summer flitting to you, my friends!
Love, Ro


  1. Fascinating! I love that you are doing this experiment....and I appreciate your scientific approach. You have good, thoughtful questions and observations! And kudos to you for adding to their population <3 ! XxxOoo

    1. It really is fascinating Song, I hope I can watch one through the whole metamorphosis. It's hard to keep track of them once they leave the plants but with so many of them, I feel like I have a good chance. I've raised Painted Ladies before but in captivity so this is a fun first!

  2. Even the Darrow SPIDERS are talented!!!!! ;-). I love it.

    1. I really like their design element, it fits right in!

  3. Spider art...that cracks me up!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm with Songbird on that one. :-)

    The third and fourth photos are my favorites--all that munching and crunching. :-) That must be fantastic to hear. I'll bet these caterpillars hang out around the stems and shoot the breeze about this fabulous milkweed cantina you've'll be on their list of home sites for next year. Wonder how 'Stop by the Darrow garden' sounds in Monarchese? :-)

    Marvelous project, Ro--I'm marveling at you and your garden, all right!!! :-) Thank you for sharing these smiles...and for recreating them in silver. Happy butterfly watching to you!!

    1. Don't you love it, the spider art is hidden until just the right time of day :)

      I had a friend over for jewelry and showed her my project and it gave her the heebie-jeebies, funny! If they were mice I could understand :)

      The butterflies, when they visit the Cantina (ai yi yi yiiii) drift around with drunken ease, they come right up to me, maybe I can train them to dust :)

      I hope I can see the whole process, it a fun project to do in the dead of summer!

  4. Hahaaaa Caroline! I like the way you think......milkweed cantina.....and Monarchese. You're too funny!

    1. Hahaa You're' right Lisa, I'm thinking of a Far Side cartoon, Butters playing poker, wearing side arms, ten ounce hats, throwing back whiskey :)

  5. HAHha! spider art! and they are quite good at it!

    i'm finding this butterfly project quite interesting….!

  6. Don't you love the spiders contribution to Bryce's mobile, it's perfect!

    The butterfly project is getting better and better….more exciting news to come!