The last few days I have been searching for Monarch caterpillar eggs. Monarch butterflies have been visiting my garden for the last week or two so I am assuming that they have been laying eggs on the milkweed. This will be my third year raising Monarch caterpillars.
Monarch Caterpillar Eggs Ready to Hatch
Because this is my third year, I now know what Monarch caterpillar eggs look like. Here is a picture of one that is quite new. So as I search, I recognize them much more quickly. I had been watching two eggs for the last two days. Today the top of the egg became much darker. So I knew that the caterpillar was about to emerge. These are a great series of pictures of the monarch caterpillar egg hatching. You can clearly see the black head of the caterpillar at the top of the egg which is what I saw today.
Growing Monarch Caterpillars in the House
The first year I had lots of caterpillars and then slowly they started disappearing until I could hardly find any. They were being eaten in my garden. See my post about Saving the Monarch Caterpillar.
When I saw that the caterpillars were about to emerge today I cut the leaves off to bring into the house. I like raising the caterpillars in the house. The last two years I have raised between 20-24 Monarch butterflies successfully. It’s quite easy to raise them if you have lots of milkweed leaves to feed them, which I have. Here is a picture of the monarch caterpillar a few hours after it had emerged. You can see it compared to a dime. They are very small when they first emerge, almost like you can’t see them. They eat voraciously and grow very fast.
Bad News About the Monarch Caterpillar Eggs
Unfortunately my two baby caterpillars died. I think that the milkweed leaf that I had in with them got too dried up. I am heartbroken and devastated. They had actually crawled off the leaf. I found them and put them back on. Now, in retrospect, I think they were looking for more moisture. After doing some research on the internet I found this great article on raising baby monarch caterpillars. THE LEAVES THAT THEY FEED ON SHOULD BE LEFT IN WATER OR SPRAYED WITH WATER TO KEEP THEM MOIST!
As a Beginner Collect Larger Caterpillars
This was a hard lesson for me. All the caterpillars that I raised in the past were larger than these newly hatched babies. They were stronger and seemed fine with the milkweed leaves that I put in for them to eat. I replaced the milkweed leaves every day when they started looking old. So if you are a beginner I would recommend raising larger caterpillars at first until you become an expert at that. Then if you want to raise them from eggs keep the leaf stems in water so the leaves stay hydrated. The link above has very good information about raising Monarchs from eggs.