A Monarch Caterpillar

It was Wednesday, a week ago, that I went to the local farmer's market with a friend. The market was quiet and quite small that day. We were hoping to pick up some fresh produce, but outside of oranges and lemons, there weren't any booths for veggies. We already have our own orange and lemon trees, so what was available wasn't what we were looking for. As we turned to leave we passed a small table with some plants and I spotted a mint plant. Mint was actually on my shopping list, since I planned on a beef dish for dinner requiring mint. As we talked with the farmer, we discovered he also had milkweed plants. On those plants, Monarch caterpillars were crawling around and happily munching away. On a whim, I had to have the plant, not for the plant itself, but for the caterpillars on the plant!

The kind farmer saw my excitement about the caterpillars and added an extra fat one to my plant and let me have the $6 plant for $4. I came home with a new plant and a few caterpillars! 

I have been in photography heaven for the last week, having something new and fun to make pictures with. 

I also discovered there must have been some undetected butterfly eggs on the plant, when after a few days, this teeny, tiny little guy appeared. He was only about 1/4 inch in length!

Here is the biggest caterpillar and the smallest caterpillar, with my thumb in the background for comparison:

I have babysat these caterpillars, keeping count and corralling them back onto the plant when they have wandered off. Finally, the larger ones, set themselves to begin their transformation! AND YES, I was excited. I have never seen this happen first hand before!

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Then, just yesterday, I checked on one of the caterpillars that was hanging to make sure he was still alive, with a slight nudge of my finger. He moved. So I left the room, not more than 30 minutes, I assure you! And when I come back into the room, where the plant is in my window, I see this!!! 

By last night, there was another one too! I am so excited for the coming butterflies! I hope to be here to witness them emerging from their protective jade igloos, so I can capture those images as well. If I manage that, I will share here too!