Sometimes we learn things the hard way…..I needed plants to feed the caterpillars that I had and picked up 3 plants for them.
Once all the old plants were gone I moved them to the new plants. Several hours later I noticed 4 large caterpillars writhing around on the soil. I’ve never had that happen before so figured the plants had been sprayed with insecticide. I lost over 40 caterpillars. Several died within a few days and the rest continued to eat and grow (new plants) and then go to the top and into “J’s”. Unfortunately that is as far as they got. Evidently the poison messed up their systems. They would start to shed and then die.
I did a lot of researching to make sure I wasn’t blaming plants when it could be disease. In the process I read that extreme heat can be a problem.
My screen room gets the late afternoon sun and it can get very hot. The original butterfly house was tall and near the ceiling. So….to be on the safe side, Jim cut a couple of feet off the bottom of it, turned it upside down, put a new top on it and legs. It needed to be higher off the floor.
It still has room for Giant Milkweed. I had to purchase 2. The 12 Tropical Milkweed plants that I bought as food for the caterpillars that had been on the poison plants had lots of little caterpillars. I thought there were only 2 dozen…but I now have over 40.
And they are no longer little…
I let them all travel to one Giant Milkweed yesterday and then when I cleaned out the cage this morning I put in the second. I hope by the time they eat these up, the plants I have in pots in the ground will be leafed out more.
A few of these have already gone to the top.
I am still convinced the plants were sprayed but didn’t want to take a chance. I scrubbed the whole cage with water and bleach…..let it soak then rinsed it. Once it was dry we did the remodel.
Jim also put wheels on it and I can move it around much easier. I really like the look, and it holds the same amount of plants.
When you buy milkweed, look for aphids. If there are a few on it, the plant is probably OK. Sometimes the store doesn’t know if they’ve been sprayed or not.
I love having the butterflies….but the growing process of the caterpillars is what fascinates me the most.