Beautiful Monarch Caterpillar

The Beautiful Monarch Caterpillar on Butterflyweed

The charismatic monarch caterpillar (Danaus plexippus) is a joyful sight for any gardener. This one, in its fifth instar stage— the largest and most vividly colored— has undergone its final molting before it will form a chrysalis just three to five days later. Although monarch caterpillars spend nearly every waking moment of their larval stages eating milkweeds, including Asclepias tuberosa or butterflyweed as shown here, they often do not pupate on those plants. They are known to crawl a fair distance away and monarch chrysalises can be found in a surprising mix of places— hanging from a variety of other wildflowers, tree trunks, and even patio chairs.

Location: A Cape Cod Garden

Photo ©
Kristin Andres