Constantly on the lookout for a particularly noxious vine which winds around the branches of our lemon trees, rapidly enveloping the entire tree with lovely green foliage and pretty flowers which become large pods containing zillions of air-born seeds…..
I enlisted the help of the four year old in pulling up the new vines in the orchard before they reached the lowest hanging tree branches to begin their ascent into the canopy.
In the process he found the most interesting caterpillar.
Realizing simultaneously: a monarch caterpillar eating the very weed I have been trying to eradicate. Therefore, the weed/vine must be a member of the milkweed family, the only food of choice of the beautifully striped caterpillar; further supported by the fact that the vine ‘bleeds’ white milk when cut.
As little boys love to do, we took the found caterpillar (and a few friends) back to the house with vine seedlings we had pulled. Installing them in a large glass vase with vine, water and a screen over the top, we hoped for the best.
They began attaching themselves to the wire with silk threads
hanging upside down for a few days, then wrapping themselves,
forming a chrysalis of amazing beauty.
About two weeks later – miraculously – a perfect butterfly!!!
into a nearby avocado tree
Godspeed winged beauty!!!