I decided to have Jim build me a new butterfly house. It has a much smaller foot print, so takes up less room in the Florida room. It also restricts less of the view.
I raised 60 caterpillars on this Giant Milkweed and decided to make the house to fit that plant. Once they have gone to the top to pupate, I can remove this plant, and replace it with another just like it.
60 caterpillars had most of the leaves stripped right down to nothing. Look how it has recovered in a short time. So…I am hoping that 20 –30 caterpillars can grow up on it…still have some leaves left and this one can recover while another 20 –30 are munching away on the second one. I’ll just keep rotating them. At least that is the game plan..but you know how those things go. These plants cost around $20 at the nursery. It will be a lot cheaper to feed with them. I’ll still have as many Tropical Milkweed plants in the ground as I can. I’ll collect caterpillars from them ………and …..the one outside for regrowth will most likely have a few eggs on it.
The plant will sit in a tray (to catch any water) that has a piece of window screen covering the tray and under the plant. That will prevent any caterpillars that might fall onto it from drowning. The pot will have a screen skirt around it so they can crawl back up to the plant. Jim built a sliding tray for easy cleanout. That is why the plant sits on slats. That way I wont have to remove it each time I want to clean…..and believe me….it will need cleaning most every day as they get larger.
I have 2 Milkweed plants and 2 Salvia plants in pots that are flowering. I bring them in at night if the temps are below 40* and put them out each day for the butterflies. There is one Monarch that shows up every day the temperature is above 60* and the sun is shinning…..sometimes a second one joins it. A yellow Sulphur, a Red Admiral and a couple skippers drop in too.
Can’t wait for caterpillar season.