Butterfly Release

I had six caterpillars on my milkweed and I put two in a jar with some milkweed and brought it in my breezeway. Both formed a chrysalis, one a few days before the other. After about ten days, one butterfly emerged.

The chrysalis turned dark and you can see the butterfly inside.
The chrysalis turned dark and you can see the butterfly inside.

The first one came out of the chrysalis yesterday about 4:30 pm. The wing pattern showed that it was a girl!

On Sunday afternoon about 4:30 pm, she came out!
On Sunday afternoon about 4:30 pm, she came out!
She crawled out of the jar.
She crawled out of the jar.
Wings need to dry in the sun, so I devised this to get her into a sunny and dry spot.
Wings need to dry in the sun, so I devised this to get her into a sunny and dry spot.

As shadows fell, she was still clumsy so I made her a room for the night.

I put her in her room in my breezeway and covered her with a laundry basket. In the morning, once the temperature was above 65 F, I brought her outside to greet the sun. Before I could snap a photo, she climbed to the phlox, took a sip, and soared away into the morning.
I put her in her room in my breezeway and covered her with a laundry basket. In the morning, once the temperature was above 65 F, I brought her outside to greet the sun. Before I could snap a photo, she climbed to the phlox, took a sip, and soared away into the morning.

The second butterfly was a girl too. She came out at 9 am Wednesday and by noon was flying around the yard. This video shows her taking her first drink of nectar.

Feeding frenzy

These will not be pretty pictures. It’s hard to say what’s eating the milkweed faster, monarch caterpillars or aphids. For a poisonous plant, the milkweed sure provides a tasty treat!

A monarch caterpillar is unconcerned about aphid damage on the milkweed.
A monarch caterpillar is unconcerned about aphid damage on the milkweed.

There are lots of things to try to get rid of aphids. I prefer squashing and cutting off the infested tops and dunking them in water before discarding. Aphids drown fairly easily. You can also dab them with isopropyl alcohol. Just don’t harm the monarch eggs or caterpillars.

I also use the relocation method. Move the tiny babies (some use a paintbrush) to another leaf and cut the infected plant’s top off.

Relocated and rushing to the underside of the leaf
Relocated and rushing to the underside of the leaf

One thing I’ve noticed, the monarchs and aphids prefer the same leaves!They must be the tastiest.

Another one on an aphid leaf.
Another one on an aphid leaf.

In less than a month the caterpillars will be butterflies and on their way.Until then, hold on milkweed!