Since the beginning of the week I have been watching the monarch caterpillars, outside my bedroom window, slugging it out over the few remaining swan plant leaves. They have been pushing and shoving and head butting in their fight to secure their place at the food table.
I tried to help by providing some delicate cucumber slices, as suggested by those in the know .
Some of the larger caterpillars tested the new menu but were not enthusiastic. They preferred to continue in their old familiar ways and went back to munching every last shred of the swan plants; some of which must have been seasoned by the eggs of what was supposed to be the next generation.
Inevitably, as the food supply has dwindled, so, too, have the caterpillar numbers. One by one the caterpillars have disappeared. Some may have gone to pupate in the dense foliage of the adjacent oregano; others have simply gone. Where, I don’t know. Have they moved to new feeding grounds, strengthened only by their will to survive? Or have they gone off to die? The ground is not littered with caterpillar corpses. If they have disappeared to meet their death elsewhere, it is in a manner reminiscent of that noble adventurer Captain Oates; a story beautifully retold by Valerie Davies in her latest post Very gallant gentlemen.
If they have died, I am glad I have been spared the sight of their demise. Watching the caterpillars squabbling over food was hard enough, not to mention the feeling of helplessness over being unable to supply them with more swan plants. ( New plants on order but not available till tomorrow 😦 )
Last year the first of my monarch butterflies emerged on March 1st, the official first day of autumn. (What a lot of firsts 🙂 ) Maybe, come March, this year, I will be surprised and delighted all over again by the birth of new Royal Beauties but, so far, I have not seen a single chrysalis.
To be continued……