During the week I clipped some leaves that had eggs on and brought them inside. (If you click on the images, you can see a larger version to see the eggs) This method was suggested by members of a Facebook group, but I found that the leaves shriveled very quickly and went crisp before the eggs had hatched.
Once the eggs were hatched I added fresh leaves each day, but it's a lot of work keeping the container clean and I was terrified I was going to throw out a hatchling with the frass (caterpillar poop) and crispy leaves. In addition, the tiny hatchlings seem bound and determined to escape. They were all over the place!
Now those caterpillars have grown a bit, I have transferred them to milkweed clippings in water picks, like the ones in the photo below. I think this is my preferred method. If I can find stems with eggs and small caterpillars on them, I can cut out the first step above.
Giving them fresh milkweed is just a case of taking new cuttings and placing them in picks right next to the ones already there. The caterpillars move over to the fresh leaves pretty quickly and then I can just remove the old ones.
See that little flash of orange in the center of the photo?
There it is again - top left. A Queen butterfly! She was flitting around the milkweed as I was collecting clippings and when I went in to get my camera to try and get a photo of her, I couldn't believe when she started laying eggs on the stems I had left on the table!
See her little gift in the middle of the leaf?
So here I go on the Monarch Nursery trail again.
Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.