an unfinished storyPosted: February 14, 2023 Filed under: SoCal Life 1 Comment
Both Terry and I want to support the monarch butterfly population. There was a shrub In the front yard near the front porch that was there when we moved in. It eventually died. We replaced it with a mock orange that also died. Finally, in our quest to support the butterflies, we put a butterfly bush there, but that died as well. I think there must be something toxic in the soil there.
We continued our quest. A while back Terry went to our locally owned garden shop and bought a milkweed plant. She put it in a container in the backyard, right at the edge of the patio where we could keep a close eye on it. In short order we had three monarch caterpillars munching away. We’ve had some good rains and winds this winter, but the caterpillars hung in there. If the weather was inclement they sheltered beneath one of the leaves. If the weather was nice they sunned themselves on top of a leaf. They kept eating and getting bigger. We were looking forward to their achieving their chrysalis state and eventually becoming butterflies. I wanted to get some pictures and write about the process.
At one point one caterpillar disappeared, but we still had two eating the plant and getting bigger. We maintained our hope of seeing the full cycle. Then, after some stormy weather we were down to one caterpillar. That lone survivor moved from the milkweed, now pretty much stripped of its leaves, to a frost cloth that we used to protect our plants in the winter. It was not in use at the time and was draped over a patio chair. Our caterpillar spent several days on the frost cloth before it, the last of the three, disappeared.
My spiritual director suggested that perhaps the last caterpillar did not leave of its own volition. That’s entirely possible. It would certainly be easy prey for a bird in the neighborhood.
So there you have it. I wanted to have a story to tell, and I suppose I do. But it’s not the complete story I wanted to be able to share.
All is not lost, though. I was out on my walk one day shortly after the disappearance of our last caterpillar and I came across a beautiful monarch. Sadly, it flitted away before I could switch from the exercise app to the camera on my iPhone.
Terry and I did not contribute to the cause in the way in which we would like to have done, but the butterflies are out there. That’s reassuring to know.
Butterflies are incredibly difficult to catch with a camera!