image gallery: pictures of milkweed, Monarch caterpillars, and Monarch butterflies

life among the milkweed... a bustling community of bees, bugs, insects, and, of course, caterpillars and butterflies

see also:
raising Monarch caterpillars in Santa Barbara
Monarch caterpillars eat butternut squash
tachinid flies are killing my monarch caterpillars!
Monarch caterpillar failed to complete pupating into chrysalis... why?

(hint - right click on any image below to open and see at full size)

yellow flower tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)

red flower "blood flower" tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)

milkweed seed pod

milkweed seed with parachute

orange Oleander milkweed aphids

honey bee on milkweed flower

monarch butterfly egg on milkweed

monarch caterpillars!

red-and-black "seed bug" [Melacoryphus lateralis] on milkweed plant, also sometimes called a milkweed bug

orange red-and-black "seed bug" [Melacoryphus lateralis] on milkweed plant, also sometimes called a milkweed bug

ladybug on milkweed, looking for milkweed aphids to snack on?

fly on milkweed... is this an ordinary housefly or the dreaded Tachinid fly?
update: it is not a Tachinid fly.

Monarch caterpillar eating milkweed

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed

Monarch butterfly on milkweed

Monarch butterfly on milkweed flower


Comments / Questions / Feedback:

Comment by mark on Saturday, May 21, 2016
What is the best way to germinate swamp milkweed? In the ground or in a container?

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Mark, Thanks for your question. I'm not sure. I grow tropical milkweed here in California. I've planted the seed both in pots (and then transplant) as well as directly in the ground. Both work. I'm not sure what the best way to germinate or plant swamp milkweed is though. Good luck!

Comment by Gail Feeney on Friday, May 26, 2017
Where do the caterpillars go when they eat all of the milkweed? Some of mine are 1 1/2 inches and bigger around than my little finger. I never see where they go, they are just gone.

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Gail, Thanks for your question. If you still have some milkweed leaves left, it means the caterpillars have left to pupate (find a spot to hang in a J and then turn into a chrysalis). They can travel up to 50 to 100 feet before they find a spot to hang.  If you've run out of milkweed (all the leaves are eaten) then the caterpillars may have left to attempt to find more milkweed if they aren't big enough to pupate. I often will see caterpillars on our milkweed plants for a couple of days, and then they "disappear". Then often we'll notice a chrysalis somewhere in the yard (on a bush, a wall, or a fence for example), though also often we don't find the chrysalises until after the butterflies have hatched and the chrysalis is empty. We just keep our milkweed watered and grow more when and where we can, and enjoy letting nature takes it's course, though occasionally a kid will "capture" a caterpillar and feed it milkweed leaves in a container so they can see it turn into a chrysalis, and then a butterfly. Thanks again for commenting!

Comment by Georganne on June 19, 2017
My milkweed leaves are all gone and there are still several > caterpillars looking for something to eat. Are they willing to eat st. augustine grass or other leaves to keep from starving?

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Georganne, Monarch caterpillars really won't eat much besides milkweed. I don't know anything about St. Augustine grass, but you could try. If the caterpillars are big enough, you can try feeding them butternut squash. I had good luck with it. Or you might find somewhere in your neighborhood that still has milkweed plants, and move them there. Good luck!

Comment by Patti on Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Intrigued by that white monarch caterpillar shot. How did it turn out? Was it a white monarch butterfly?

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Patti, Good question, but the answer is that I don't know. That was a Monarch caterpillar that I saw in my backyard. Since I did not raise him in captivity, I don't know what happened to him. I see quite a variety in the coloring of our Monarch caterpillars. Although they all have the black, yellow, and white strip pattern, some are darker and some are lighter. As far as I know, they all look the same when they become Monarch butterflies because all of the butterflies we see look the same. I often wonder why the coloring on the caterpillars varies. One more thing to investigate some day when I have more time.



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