08.01.2019 It’s monarch munch time

Until they go into their cocoons it’s all about fattening up.

I am always amazed that all I have to do is brush against a milkweed leaf and it will exude its milky liquid while the caterpillar can chow down on the same leaf and leave no trail of sap. And that toxic fluid is what gives them their protection against predators. Monarchs-Danaus plexippus have built up a tolerance for the latex where it can sicken or kill others. But the milkweed doesn’t wish to be eaten so is constantly evolving new deterrents. It’s an ongoing co-evolutionary battle. If you are interested in learning more about the subject, “Monarchs and MIlkweed” is a good source.


A hungry larva can devour a leaf fairly quickly.

I haven’t found any milkweed tussocks-Euchaetes egle so far this year, but they also can enjoy the leaves or pods without any harmful effects.

About Steve Gingold

I am a Nature Photographer with interests in all things related. Water, flowers, insects and fungi are my main interests but I am happy to photograph wildlife and landscapes and all other of Nature's subjects.
This entry was posted in Butterflies, Closeup Photography, Insects, macro photography and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to 08.01.2019 It’s monarch munch time

  1. Unlike monarchs, people eat from the tree of knowledge. That’s why we know so much about them and they know nothing about us.


  2. shoreacres says:

    When I saw those tussock caterpillars, my first thought was, “I wonder if anyone ever has crocheted one of those?” I have a friend who’s a crack knitter and crocheter; I’m going to ask her if such a thing would be possible. I’d love to see one; they apparently can be found in Texas, but aren’t common. Every time I look at that photo I laugh. Some insects are just so improbable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The milkweed tussocks are cuties for sure. I doubt that a predator who swallowed one would agree as they must be quite scratchy on the way down and, since they feed on milkweed, probably have some unpleasant side effects too. If your friend knits or crochets one I hope you will do a post about it some day. In a way they remind me of a shih-tsu or Pekingese.


  3. Todd Henson says:

    Those milkweed tussocks look a little like fly fishing lures. It’s always good to see the monarchs about.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lemony says:

    Wonderful shots!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. bluebrightly says:

    Have you been seeing the caterpillars? Are these recent photos? I hope so! Did I tell you I used to “raise” them sometimes, back before they started to become scarce? It was so much fun to bring them fresh milkweed leaves and watch them eat, then pupate, and finally emerge, after which I let them go of course. It’s such a strange process when you think about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, these are recent shots…aside from the tussocks which is from a few years back.. I’ve more but they are all pretty much similar. Since they are right outside our garage door I check on them daily…sometimes hourly.

      No, I didn’t know that about you. Another endearing bluebrightly fact. 🙂 I’ve never tried to raise them although one year I had black swallowtail larvae on some parsley we were growing on a table outdoors and I tried to make a cage to protect them. Don’t know whether it worked as they all crawled off somewhere to pupate. Not a very good cage, I guess. Must have been a lot of fun for you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bluebrightly says:

        It was a great experience, but I wouldn’t do it now because it seems there are fewer and fewer of them. You must have wondered where those swallowtails went…. in any case, I’m happy to know you are seeing the Monarchs. When they first begin to pupate, they used to look sick to me, and I would worry, then I would see what was going on, and Oh! the little spots of gold, they were extraordinary. I hope you get to see a pupa. And two more – I had the pleasure of catching a Monarch laying eggs once – that was lucky. And believe it or not, I used to see them migrate down Fifth Avenue – seriously! in New York City – every fall. It was the most amazing sight, seeing a Monarch flying high over the traffic. That was a long time ago. But just a few years ago on a trip back to NY I did see masses of them at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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