Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Proof Positive Butterflyweed Hosts Monarch Caterpillars

Finally! After many years of growing butterflyweed, aka Asclepias tuberosa, I finally have found monarch caterpillars!!! Each year I would hunt for the cats but never found any. There was always plenty of Milkweed Tussock Caterpillars but never any monarch. Finally, they are here.
There are quite a few of them too. These cats are small and are probably third instars as they are not even an inch long. I planted five small butterflyweed plants in a front garden about a month ago and these are the plants hosting the monarchs. I checked my wild butterflyweed (planted and grown by Mother Nature), but could not find any monarchs on those plants.
Each plant had one of two monarch cats happily munching away and not paying any attention to the photographer.
This one is just below a section of one plant that was already eaten. Note the frass in the crotches of the leaves. I purchased these small plants in Ohio last month. It is hard to find good butterflyweed plants growing in pots because they have tuberous roots which can have difficulties growing in pots for too long of a time. These plants were in 4" square pots and were only about 6" tall. The seedpod you see was from the blooms that were on the plants when I purchased them. Right now the plants are coming into a second bloom cycle with lots of new foliage.
I am simply thrilled to have monarch caterpillars and have applied for our garden to become a certified monarch waystation.
The butterfly weed also is hosting a few milkweed bugs.
Lastly, the 'Henry Eiler' coneflowers are blooming up a storm....

in the garden....just for the butterflies.
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. Hurray for you and the butterflies!

    I 'had' butterfly weed growing here naturally until Hurricane Wilma. The butterflies loved it.

    What an interesting coneflower.

    Enjoy the rest of your week ~ FlowerLady

  2. What luck getting Monarchs in your garden. I had a Monarch flit through the garden this week. I couldn't even get a photo of it it went through so fast. Seeing this makes me want to go out and check the Butterfly weed in my garden. I am still hopeful... Henry is a beauty.

  3. All I seem to find on my butterfly weed is aphids! although this year, no aphids and I was so happy about that... My butterfly weed is producing more with it seed pods. Love the stuff...

  4. How exciting! I've never seen Monarch cats on my butterfly weeds, but they sure are covered with milkweed bugs.

  5. I have them on milkweed. Should I try to get rid of them or do they harm the plant?

    1. Hi Sallysmom! Oh please don't hurt them! Monarch caterpillars are good and whatever they eat from the butterflyweed will not hurt the plant. We need more monarch caterpillars and lucky you to have them! If you have young children you might want to take a caterpillar in (when it is large), put it in a shoebox and feed it the butterflyweed daily and wait for it to turn into a chrysalis then watch the metamorphosis as it changes into a butterfly. I've not done this with monarchs but with swallowtails and it is an amazing miracle to be able to see nature at work. Check the web for precise info on how to do monarch caterpillars. I am thinking of doing it with mine but haven't decided yet. Have a great day!

  6. Yea!!!!! I keep watching for the caterpillars too, but none so far. Good to see they will come.