Yay, so excited that they have arrived! I came home from work for lunch yesterday and found a couple of eggs. I didn't have time to harvest any and it poured and thunderstormed all night long. First thing this morning I went outside to see how many I had. I found 8 this morning and that was it. After a couple of hours I went outside and saw my first monarch flying around, and then another in the yard to the north of me. I started looking and found 10 more eggs for a total of 18.
May 30, 2011
The Monarch caterpillar can only eat milkweed so that is the only place the female lays her eggs. The egg takes from 3-5 days to hatch. A dime in the picture for size comparison.
It took 5 days for my first egg to hatch. A little longer than usual because of the chilly temps we had. I find that the cooler it is the longer they take to hatch.
June 1, 2011
"When the caterpillar has become too large for its skin, it molts, or sheds its skin. At first, the new skin is very soft, and provides little support or protection. The new skin soon hardens and molds itself to the caterpillar, which often eats the shed skin before starting in anew on plant food! The intervals between molts are called instars. Monarchs go through five instars. Approximate length of body at each stage: 1st instar, 2-6mm; 2nd instar, 6-9mm; 3rd instar, 10-14mm; 4th instar, 13-25mm; 5th instar, 25-45mm." Source: Monarch.org
Normally they stay on their milkweed plant to shed their skin but this little guy climbed off and went down on the newspaper that I have lining the bottom of the aquarium. This is just a normal newspaper so you can compare his size to the size of the print. The black specks you see to your left are his shriveled up skin and caterpillar poop. After they shed they can't move for a while and are very vulnerable when they are outside. I'm sure this is when most of them get eaten. 90% of Monarchs die in the wild. Their main enemy is the wasp.I have named this little guy/girl, McQueen, after the actress, Butterfly McQueen. You cannot tell whether they are male or female until they form their chrysalis.