Yesterday I wrote about the dwindling supply of milkweed leaves for my hungry caterpillars, and Linda responded in a comment that they have been known to eat butternut squash in a pinch. I was so grateful for her help, and was ready to go shopping for it and to put cubes of vegetable on sticks for them before I would head out of town.
But when I went out to check on the cats they seemed to have stopped eating, and one of them seemed to be working himself into the hanging J position. They hadn’t eaten all the leaves available. I got quite a surprise to see three more, slightly smaller caterpillars on the pathetic Narrow-Leaf Milkweed plant nearby! Should I also try to rescue them?
Later when I checked again, still none of the six were eating — was that because it was cool and cloudy? — but they had moved and were all stretched out vertically. In case they were going to return to chomping through the leaves, I decided to bring a stem of milkweed over from under the fig tree. There was one with a strange horizontal, shallow root, which pulled up easily. I stuck it in the ground so that its leaves touched the other (healthy) plant; I anchored it with rocks and gave it a good watering. I finished packing the car and drove off.
When I get home again next week you can be sure I will let you know the current state of affairs of what is now a group of six Monarch caterpillars. For now, I want to show you something pretty I noticed on the patio — the white begonia is tall and healthy, much bigger than last year. It’s a pristine, comforting bit of newness when the earth is making its yearly descent into death and decay.