We've been planting a butterfly garden in one of our large beds in the backyard, which we affectionately named "The Monarch" after this guy.
Yes, we've named all of the flower beds in our garden. It really simplifies things when you're trying to discuss & plan things and shop for plants and stuff. It's way easier to say, "Let's plant a hyssop in The Monarch" than to say, "Let's plant a hyssop in that bed that's on the far right when you're looking out into the yard from the back door, you know, the one where we're going to plant all the butterfly-attracting plants?"
You'll be hearing more about all of our other beds & their names in future posts; for now I just wanted to share our fantastic little visitor with you. He'll (she'll?) be pupating in a week or two, then about 3 weeks later emerging as a beautiful monarch butterfly.
I have to admit that I was scared when I first glanced it shimmying across the ground. I'd never seen a monarch caterpillar up close - it's not exactly friendly-looking! But when Patrick informed me that it was a monarch, I immediately started oohing and ahhing at it like it was a precious newborn baby, and then ran for my camera. The bright yellow & black & white stripes are a warning to would-be predators: "Don't eat me! I'm highly toxic, so step off!"
Milkweed is the monarch's preferred food. This little guy stripped off entire leaves. In about 20 seconds.
As it eats, the caterpillar derives toxins from the sap of the milkweed that will deter predators from eating it, in both the caterpillar & butterfly stages. We've already seen quite a few butterflies flitting around our new butterfly garden, so I can only imagine how amazing they'll be when The Monarch is fully grown in!