Monarch Caterpillars sighted in the Milkweed Meadow

Location:  Elyria Canyon Park, Mt Washington, Los Angeles, CA
July 3, 2012
The Mount Washington Beautification Committee has been working to create a butterfly garden in Elyria Canyon Park near the Red Barn.  We are also monitoring the native plants in the park and observing the butterflies that are attracted to them.  We are happy to announce that there are several early instar Monarch Caterpillars feeding on the buds of the Indian Milkweed, Asclepias eriocarpa (see CalFlora) that grows naturally in the park. The milkweed manages to escape the weed whacking because it doesn’t begin to sprout its gray, furry leaves until after the annual oats and mustard are cleared as part of the yearly brush clearance.  This is fortuitous since the two places in Elyria Canyon Park where the milkweed survives are both in areas that get cleared yearly.

Monarch Caterpillar feeding on Milkweed Buds

Last year, we also documented two Monarch Caterpillars that were discovered at a later, more mature instar stage.  Caterpillars undergo five instars or growth stages each ending in a molting.  The final or fifth instar end with molting to a chrysalis.  Many caterpillars leave the food plant to search for a better location for the metamorphosis to the chrysalis.  We didn’t observe any chrysalides last year, but we are hopeful that the two caterpillars we found eventually metamorphosed into adult Monarch Butterflies.

Monarch Caterpillar feeding on Milkweed Buds


 

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