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Lifecycle of the Monarch Butterfly

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One of my favorite parts of our yard is the butterfly garden we put in a few years ago. This year it didn’t look quite as pretty as it has in the past, but the honeybees and bumblebees still went wild for the catmint, and this year the milkweed (we put it in last year) attracted monarchs.  The milkweed is, frankly, not an especially attractive addition to the garden. I didn’t realize how big it would get and put it in the front. It gets so tall that the big central stalks snap over to the ground. And, again, it ended up covered in millions of little aphids. Though this year I did see a couple of ladybugs on them as well. However, none of that matters because, as I said we did see a few monarch butterflies flitting around the yard and on the plants.
More monarchs
To our absolute delight right before we left we saw a handful of monarch caterpillars on the plants. Since we’ve returned I’ve counted 11 at a time on the plants, ranging in size from tiny new ones with itty bitty squished up stripes, to great big ones chomping away on the milkweed leaves.
Caterpillar Eating Milkweed Leaves
And yesterday I saw an actual chrysalis dangling from one of the leaves! I’ve seen all this in butterfly exhibits at botanical gardens and zoos, but never right here in my own yard. I’m pretty thrilled about it.
Monarch butterfly lifecycle
Apparently it takes 10-14 days to transform into a butterfly inside the chrysalis, so it will be a little while before it is done. In the meantime, I can’t wait to see if I find any more chrysalises and also how I can prevent the aphids from killing off these plants next year.


About Sarah

I'm a librarian living with my lovely family in a gorgeous spot of New Jersey, where we raise chickens and love the outdoors. I try to find enough time to indulge all my hobbies-cooking, photography, gardening, sewing, and I write about it all on my book blog & personal blog.

2 responses »

  1. Looks like you are having a great summer!!! I am just now catching up on all my blog posts after our road trip! Great stuff!

  2. After the butterflies, of course, my favorite little creatures in the garden are the butterfly moths! Have you seen them? They hover like teeny little hummingbirds but they are moths that love the nectar. Fuzzy little characters too.


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