We have dozens and more likely hundreds of monarch caterpillars on our 3.5 acres. Our wildflower nature preserve is working...woo hoo!
Steve noticed about 50 or so monarch caterpillars munching away on our Common Milkweed for sale in our plant nursery (that explains the disappearing plants!) and we decided to rear this batch to help protect against predators and disease. We don't have a great place for this, but decided an old backpacking tent would work perfectly.
We nestled the tent on the North side of our Black Walnut to protect the caterpillars from roasting in this little mini-oven and moved the trays of plants inside.
There are so many caterpillars in so many different instars. It's fabulous!
We replenish plants and leaves everyday to keep up with these hungry cats. We have potted milkweed, freshly cut milkweed leaves and milkweed stems with leaves in ball jars that we lidded and cut a hole to insert the stem through so the caterpillars don't fall in the water. The potted milkweed and these "vases" of milkweed are by far their preferred food.
This is such a fun cool project, I made a VIDEO to show you how we are doing this and what it looks like inside.
Note: Monarch caterpillars eat milkweed (Asclepias), which is filled with cardiac glycosides...not a tasty substance and one that can make people and animals quite sick if eaten. They do this to protect themselves from birds and other predators who love to eat caterpillars. Not all predators know this (or are affected by it), even with their warning coloration, until they eat one and so they look quite tasty until they do. When I say tasty in the video...that's what I mean!