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  • Alison Shepard

Mondays with Millie! What does a hungry Monarch caterpillar EAT?

Did you know that monarch caterpillar's sole source of food is milkweed?

Can you imagine only eating one kind of food all the time?

Well, thankfully, there are many types of milkweed, even several dozen!

Whew! What a relief!

This is great news because this means that in many parts of North, Central and South America, there are milkweed plants that are native to your region! That means that you can plant milkweed and begin to attract monarchs into your own yard! How exciting is that?!

Here's a great website for learning about some of the types of milkweed that can grow where you live: MILKWEED TYPES

I live in Ohio, and the type of milkweed I'm holding in this photo is called Asclepias tuberosa, also known as Butterfly Weed. I grew my Butterfly Weed from seeds that I got from this company called Seed Savers.

When I was raising my monarchs, I bought what I thought were just the chrysalides (the cocoon-like sack that a monarch caterpillar turns into and lives in as it transforms into a butterfly), but when they arrived, I was shocked to find a tiny caterpillar inside the package! I was elated, but also sort of panicked. I wasn't growing milkweed at that time, and I had no idea what I could feed this little baby. Thankfully, at the gym where I worked out, there was some milkweed growing! So one day, when I showed up to work out, I brought some scissors with me and explained to the front desk folks my dilemma. I asked if I could cut some each time I came to the gym, and to my surprise, they said yes! I was so grateful! Needless to say, this was great accountability for working out! I didn't want my little baby to starve, so I went to the gym every other day and brought several sprigs home with me each time. Growing Monarch caterpillars sure are hungry!

Without milkweed, monarchs cannot survive and their populations will decrease.

It was such an amazing gift to be able to watch the miraculous transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly! They are creatures of incredible beauty and their metamorphosis is one of the great wonders of nature.

If you want to do your part to help the Monarch populations, find the varieties of milkweed plants that are native to your region, and plant some seeds! As stewards of our planet, the impact of planting a tiny seed is beyond what we can even imagine . . .

Want to raise a Monarch caterpillar of your own and watch it transform? Check out this site for more info! ButterflyWorkx

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