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