Monarch caterpillars

All curled up:

A backyard caterpillar.  I was out weeding, and looked over at a milkweed plant, and saw a Monarch caterpillar perched in a nice position. By the time I got back with my gear, the caterpillar had munched its way into another position, a pretty awkward one for my tripod. I set up, and as I did, I found a second caterpillar on the ground, curled into this position. I picked it up with a grass blade, put it on a milkweed leaf, and took this image – and then put it back on the milkweed plant I had knocked it off. After a few minutes, it uncurled and wandered off on the milkweed plant. Whew.

Meanwhile, the first caterpillar was a new position:

It has eaten the top leaves and stem. Minutes later, it went underneath the leaf at the bottom of this image. In a few more minutes, a third of the leaf was gone. Both should be forming a chrysalis soon, if they don’t become bird food. In my area, Monarchs start to fly south in numbers starting the third week in September.

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