April 10th – Monarch Caterpillar

Monarch Caterpillar

It was manual labour this morning, in our sights was one of Australia’s most invasive pests, Red Headed Cotton. A weed growing in one of the lower paddocks.

It was also the adopted home of these attractive, striped caterpillars. These caterpillars have love this weed because of it’s milky, fatty juices, which promotes body growth through each of its growth phases, or instars.

My Wikipedia-fuelled guess is the pictured grub is in either the fourth or fifth (and final) instar, and will soon be finding somewhere cool to hang out – literally. After the fifth instar the caterpillar will form a chrysalis, where it will spend a week transforming into the easily recognisable Monarch Butterfly.

They are easy to manage, and will transform in captivity.

I saved a couple of larger caterpillars and transported them to a new home. Numerous escape attempts were made, backing my belief that at least one of them was ready to pupate.

I left them under the care of my daughter who harvested some of the regular milkweed variety. Here’s hoping they put on a show in the next few days.

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