Monarch cats

League City, TX(Zone 9a)

Whoa...I am on vacation and have been spending some quality time in the back yard. I was looking at my "butterfly" garden and lo and behold, more of these caterpillars than I could see. I counted around 15 or so, but kept finding the smaller cats that are maybe 1cm and hard to spot.

They have almost eaten all my butterfly weed though! I need to go buy more asap...any other advice?? I always thought the lizards were eating the monarch eggs so this is a huge surprise. My daughter has a butterfly habitat (net) that can raise 10 cats so I was thinking about putting the bigger ones in there so we can observe.

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Colima, Mexico(Zone 11)

Congratulations John! Is this your first batch that you know of? They are adorable. Make sure when you buy more plants that they haven't been sprayed with any insecticides or herbicides.

Also there are a number of members who live in Texas...maybe some not far from you and hopefully you will hear from them.

I have the best luck with Monarch survival rates in November/December, after the rainy season here (esp. bad are Sept & Aug). During the rainy season the predators seem to be everywhere. Also, the fact that you are home and able to observe is a factor. When you are working and don't get home until dark or near dark you can miss a lot of activity, but still on the weekend you can tell if the plants have been eaten or not. If your garden is fairly new, maybe they have just discovered it.

I am sure you and your family will enjoy watching this process from beginning to when the butterflies eclose from the chrysalises. Seeing this process is what gets people hooked on providing host plants for butterflies, so be careful :-) and good luck with these tiny tots!

League City, TX(Zone 9a)

Yes, this is our first batch that we know of! It's exciting because there are so many cats.

I am inclined to think that we will experience better results in the winter as well. There are just way too many predators in the summer, but I hope there are plenty that make it that I do not see.

Thanks again, Vitrsna! This will be a great experience!

Colima, Mexico(Zone 11)

Yes it will be a great experience, and post to this forum along the way if you have any concerns or questions. You didn't get much of a response to this post though, probably because of the holidays, but in general, you might have better luck with responses if you post to the "Daily Pictures 110" thread. This is the thread most people watch, and you can share your photos and see the photos of others.

By the way, i've been tending a butterfly garden (a small one) for 6 years and have watched the process with a variety of different caterpillars to butterflies many times each year and it never looses the magic. You have a treat in store for you, some surprises, some heartache, lots of joy. Remember there is no such thing as a stupid question, so if you wonder, ask!

League City, TX(Zone 9a)

Ugh...anybody online now?? There's a freeze warning tonight, but my desktop weather app (WeatherBug) has temps forecast only into the mid-30's. Regardless, I have a bunch of cats outside- are they ok?? Should I put them in the butterfly habitat and stash them in the garage or something? Not sure how "hardy" those little bugger are, thanks for any advice~

Atlanta, GA(Zone 8a)

John don't know the answer by maybe you could reach out to Dale at Dallas county lepidopterist society or the Facebook group raisin butterflies.

League City, TX(Zone 9a)

Thank you, memays! I got home late this evening and did a quick google search on the topic, but did not find many concrete answers. Found a snippet from a fellow Texan's blog where s/he concluded something to the effect of, "It's a cruel, unpredictable winter here for cats, so..."

Anyway, I went ahead and erred on the side of caution and rounded up as many as I could find. Which was frustrating in the dark. Even more frustrating was I did not find as many as I had counted earlier, a week ago!! Where do they go?? Do they get eaten or something? :/ Actually, I found several on the ground, amidst the dead, damp leaves...yikes. They were curled up.

Well, here's to these remaining guys making it. Although, I need to trim this one branch in the pic below (one of the cats may fly the coop if I'm not careful.)

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Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

John, I hope you find some more food for your cats. Mine ate almost every leaf I had before the deluge of cats subsided. If you would like some Asclepias curassavica, Asclepias physocarpa, or a few other easy to grow milkweed seeds to start this spring, let me know, I have lots of extra seed.

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