Last school year we planted milkweed in the planter box in front of our classroom…and had a front row seat to view the intricacies of the monarch life cycle.
As the school year continued, what was left of the milkweed (after the caterpillars had decimated it) died away and a native volunteer took over the box.
A week or so ago, a classroom mom came by and cleared out our box and replanted milkweed. And before even an hour had passed, a monarch friend had already visited. We’ve all been on the lookout for evidence of eggs and caterpillars since.
This week, they made their presence known! Teeny tiny yellow, green, and black caterpillars have made an appearance and are busily chomping away at the milkweed.
It is amazing just how quickly they grow from almost invisible to the eye, to plump little crawlers.
These are actually much smaller than they appear in the photo thanks to the magic of modern technology and cropping techniques! But you can see they have been quickly devouring this plant.
And so now we wait. Will these caterpillars survive long enough to grow to the size where they form a chrysalis and transform into butterflies? Is there enough milkweed there to sustain them? What predators will they have to avoid?
These beautiful creatures are fascinating to watch (and photograph), and seem to thrive in our school environment. I love that we don’t need to buy a butterfly “kit” to have our students learn about the majesty and wonder of the insect world.
I always find that the more I learn about something, the more I appreciate and notice the natural beauty right in front of my eyes! What critters sit outside your door for you to learn more about?