Recently I've seen other bloggers posting photographs of Monarch butterflies and Monarch caterpillars in their garden and I've been a little jealous.
We've got milkweed taking over the garden, but as hard as I looked, I didn't see a single caterpillar.
I was beginning to feel that we didn't have the right to display our newly acquired Monarch Waystation sign.
This past weekend, I decided I had to do something with the front border -- it's so overgrown, you can barely see the daylilies which are struggling to bloom between the garden mums, the shrubs and the milkweed.
Unfortunately, I ended up not getting very far because after an hour or so of leaning over pulling out what seemed like a million milkweed seedlings, such as can be seen in the first photo, and the ever present nutsedge, I had a mammoth headache and had to sit down on an upturned flowerpot and take a break.
That was when I spotted something that made my heart skip a beat -- a Monarch caterpillar!
I didn't feel well enough yesterday to explore much more and see how many might be out there, but as soon as I got home from work this evening, I had to see if I could still find him.
To my delight, I found not only the one I had seen on Sunday, but at least four of his cousins, all big and healthy and munching away on the milkweed!
I'll probably delay the rest of the weeding of that flowerbed because I don't want to disturb or damage the caterpillars.
The strange thing is, although we have some very healthy stands of milkweed in the back garden, there's not a caterpillar to be seen among them. Their leaves aren't chewed up at all. I wonder if it's the proximity to the bird feeders that explains the lack of caterpillars, although I thought I read that Monarch cats were poisonous.
Does anyone have any suggestions as to why the milkweed in the back garden are caterpillar-less?
Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.