I found this little guy on the last leaf of the last milkweed plant I looked at on my walk Friday. And I almost missed him. He looks quite impressive in this photo but he is actually very tiny, about the length of a dime.
He is now living on the screen porch in a fish tank with a fresh supply of milkweed leaves but has not ventured from the leaf where I found him. The edges of the leaf have been nibbled on both ends, so I know he has been moving about.
It takes a monarch about a month to go through the stages from egg to adult – egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis) and adult. My newly found larva has a lot of growing to do in a very short time. And I am a bit worried. I have discovered that like all good ideas I bluster upon, it can be more complicated than it seems at first. For instance, I read that monarchs are usually raised in mesh cages for air circulation and that the milkweed leaves should be placed in water to prevent them from drying out. I don’t have a mesh cage, but I did place cheesecloth on top of the tank so that he can’t escape but still has a supply of fresh air. I have added a new sprig of milkweed and placed it in some fresh water. We’ll see… I’ll keep you posted.