Soon to be butterflies

For weeks, now, there have been monarch butterflies in the yard, attracted to everything in bloom, especially the lantana. Now, there are caterpillars. They were noticed only this morning and only because the milkweed plants in pots were missing many of their leaves and some of their flowers. Closer inspection revealed five of the finest lavae. This is a picture of a mature monarch on the kind of milkweed we have. Earlier, these milkweeds were just bare stems, but as it has warmed up, they have leafed out again and produced flowers. The kind pictured is orange and yellow; some are entirely yellow. The caterpillars like both colors. We don’t keep a butterfly garden or hummingbird garden as such, but we always leave Turk’s cap and lantana alone, so there’s always food there. We also grow fennel and parsley for the parsleyworms (they become the large black swallowtail butterflies with yellow barred borders) and passionflower (maypop) for the caterpillars that become gulf fritillary butterflies. Besides the monarch larvae, right now we have many, many future fritillaries and swallowtails as well.

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