Chris posted a comment asking if I was raising them……it didn’t start out that way. I had a small container with a couple of leaves with eggs….I wanted to hatch them and photograph the whole process from start to finish.
I needed to do some research on how to keep the eggs etc. While doing that I found out that ants and other predators will sometimes eat the eggs (big red ants were running up and down my plants)…so I gathered a few more. Now I had 2 containers..once they started hatching it was a job keeping fresh clean leaves in it so I moved everything to a large container. Because the leaves were cut when I placed them in it..they wilted before they could be completely eaten and I was afraid I’d run out of leaves…….that’s when I decided to buy a couple of new plants…..(to feed with)….I sat them in my screen room and transferred all the caterpillars to them ….they could consume the whole leaf instead of only part and they seemed so much more active…It was a lot of fun watching them….sure beats TV…
Next thing I knew I had a big caterpillar and it looked like it was ready to find a safe place to pass from the final stage of caterpillar to pupa (chrysalis)……and the 18 or so others would be following along in a week or so…..now…I wouldn’t mind having them running free in the screen room…but there would be no way for me to keep track of when a butterfly needed to be let out….my husband suggested screening in a bird cage and I remembered the big wooden one stored in the shed….and that’s how I ended up with a Butterfly House.
We can leave for a few days, even if there is a chrysalis and it’s getting close to the time for it to emerge….We can sit the cage on the back porch and remove the door and they can leave when they are ready to.
The 5 plants in it will be planted in the back yard for the next season.
My milkweed plants in the yard are getting seed pods.
I will collect some of the seeds to start plants with, incase I want to raise a few butterflies, and let the rest reseed itself. I hope to have a lot of plants for them when they return from their migration.
This plant still has an egg or two on it.
You can see this plant would not have fed all those caterpillars and the other plant is much smaller……
Milkweed is also the larval plant for the Queen Butterfly.
It’s another beauty I wouldn’t mind having visit the yard on a regular basis.