Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Caterpillar Camp


The nursery is back open for business.  Sigh...

I planted a bunch of milkweed seeds and plants this spring in hopes that the caterpillars could all grow up out in the "wild" this year and I could just walk out and enjoy them without all the set up and care...and what I think I did was plant a flashing neon sign that says "ALL YOU CAN EAT CATERPILLAR SMORGASBORD!" :-(


This is mostly what I see.  There was obviously a caterpillar here not too long ago.  The leaf has been eaten and the green balls on the next leaf down are caterpillar poop...but there is no longer a caterpillar.


My first thought was birds, but I think a bigger culprit is wasps.  I see them swooping in and around the plants all day long.  There are apparently several that are known to eat caterpillars.  While I am a firm believer in live and let live in situations like this and that maybe surely wasps have a productive purpose in life, my fun trips to the milkweed gardens...have not been fun.


Frequently I see this - a baby caterpillar happily eating away on a fresh leaf, just the way nature intended.  I have yet to see one make it to maturity.  They are now coming in to the nursery where they are probably not as happy...but they have a much better chance of staying alive and turning into beautiful monarch butterflies.


In order to put the cut stems down in a water bottle or container, I have to pull off the two lowest leaves.  I almost missed this super tiny baby on one of the discarded leaves.  Into the nursery he goes!  At least I'll have easy access to plenty of fresh leaves this year.


11 comments:

Far Side of Fifty said...

Love your Nursery! Yeah for having so much food for them! I noticed you had a whole bunch of Milkweed in your gardens:)

Michelle said...

I love seeing you do this!

Anonymous said...

OH, you are de Moma!! Brilliant idea with the laundry baskets.

sophy0075 said...

I’m with you about the wasps.

knitski said...

Dang those nasty wasps!

Anonymous said...

i had the same sad experience w/my milkweed patch last year - a dozen or so plants and quite a few caterpillars in various lengths one day ... and all gone the next day or two days later. so i looked up a list of their predators ... and there are SO MANY. it's a wonder any of them survive to a chrysalis. i suspect the wasps, too, at our place. this year i didn't see any cats, so double sigh, but this is our farm property away from where i live and i can't be there every day - usually just once or so a week. --suz in ohio

Terry and Linda said...

You are the kindest soul in the whole wide world and I love you for it. Thankfully now the little ones can grow and become BIG and Beautiful and fly all the way across the border come fall!

Cheryl West said...

You put in such a valiant effort. Is there any kind of wasp trap that would be of any help?
Thank you for every caterpillar you save.

Sheepmom said...

I think the milkweed patch is a good idea BUT I guess you have to look at it as a nursery which you'd want to inspect frequently and bring the hatchlings into your system to grow. You'd still utilize it for feeding them and the flowers and seeds would help others in the environment, but yeah....only a tiny fraction make it in the wild.

I need orange said...

Thank you for taking care of them! (Damned wasps!) I am pretty "live and let live," too, but I've got a short fuse for wasps....

Glenda said...

You are simply AMAZING!!!

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