I found these cute little guys attached to the parsley on our back deck.  Imagine spending your entire life in a compact, cylindrical body, your tiny little prolegs protruding from the bottom, your six real legs grabbing onto stalks while you munch munch munch on everything you can lay your real legs on, eating as much as 27,000 times your body weight.

I don’t imagine you can cover much ground with legs like that, but it’s not a forever condition.  In fact, in about a month, they won’t even recognize themselves.

When the day arrives, you get the urge to attach yourself to a stalk and cover yourself in a chrysalis body suit so tight it makes your insides turn to mush. There your stay for some time while your cells rearrange themselves in intricate alien patterns heretofore unknown to you. You wait and wonder, and flail what used to be your little legs while you remain encased in a gauzy haze, resisting the urge to panic, wondering if you will ever be free again. And then, suddenly, you are.

I was excited because I thought these were monarch butterflies in the making.  The monarch butterfly is one of the most iconic representations of Nature’s sublime beauty, and it, like many other species, is endangered, not yet in the legal sense, because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is still conducting its assessment, but in the very real physical sense.

According to the Environmental Working Group, EWG, the monarch butterfly population is down to 20% of what it once was as a result of glyphosate usage – an ingredient in Roundup — an herbicide that kills milkweed, the monarchs plant of choice.

If trends continue, the remaining monarch butterflies may not be enough to resuscitate the species.

Turns out that my little caterpillars were not monarchs, but swallowtails — monarch caterpillars don’t have the yellow dots — and the swallowtails aren’t endangered.  And all my parsley is gone, eaten in one sitting, I presume, but none of that matters.  I was happy to be an Airbnb for a few caterpillars in need of accommodations and I trust they enjoyed their herbicide-free experience.

What can you do to help bring the monarch back?  Plant a little milkweed perhaps?

pam lazos 8.18.19



About Pam Lazos

writer, blogger, environmentally hopeful
This entry was posted in butterflies, Roundup, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

  1. Wonderful! I’m a citizen scientist and report my monarch sightings to Journey North Have common milkweed in my garden and have sighted 53 adult monarchs so far this season and watched one emerge from its chrysalis on my porch. Also, DO NOT use pesticides… THANKS for SPREADING THE WORD!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In the past few years we would plant giant zinnias. Butterflies and hummingbirds both loved them! But this year our seeds didn’t take. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So cool Pam to have been a little condo home for these guys. I’ll look into planting milkweed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. susan scott says:

    we get long caterpillars – those with a 100 legs, which legend says foretells rain. Elaine Mansfield writes beautifully on her care of monarchs, and trackes them from flying away 1000’s of miles to their return. She uses milkweed to feed them in the ‘houses’ she keeps for them.. Thanks Pam, gorgeous photos. I always get excited when i see butterflies and bees.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ally Bean says:

    I start parsley from seed inside in the spring, then I use it as filler in flower pots with actual flowers. It looks pretty and when the caterpillars arrive they scarf it down like nobody’s business. Makes me happy every summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lena Hohenadel says:

    I’ve had the same experience the summer. I had black swallowtails who by the way, still visit my rejuvenated parsley. They are so beautiful-black with a large punch of blue. Monarchs & white pieridae are also having a fun time!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ken Dowell says:

    So the only thing endangered was your parsley? You did get some beautiful pictures though.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A number of years ago I used to have my annual Monarch nursery tour for my students – those caterpillars could mow down dozens of swan plants in a week 🙂 (That’s what we call ‘milkweed’) Now I never see Monarchs – or too many other butterflies apart from small whites – any more. I was appalled when I found that glysophates were being sprayed on the gardens in my local park last autumn. Why don’t we learn?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I haven’t seen a caterpillar in a really long time.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.