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Saturday, January 17, 2009


These monarch caterpillars were found squeezing the last bits of alkaloid-laden nutrition from this tortured asclepias curassavica plant. The genus asclepias was named for the Greek god of healing: physician heal theyself! which these plants do with gusto. They don't call it milkweed for nothing. Completely defoliated stems and entire plants resprout leaves from the stem joints soon after the caterpillars have their way, and are soon full and blooming again. The plants do benefit from a little tip pruning at this time to shape and clean them up if they are growing in a garden setting. Be sure to watch out for and protect any caterpillars and pupae, and protect your skin from the milky juice.


lisa said...

Fun milkweed facts! Are those yellow things on the stem aphids? Too bad the caterpillars won't eat thoem, too! :)

vanessa cardui said...

Yes those are oleander aphids, aphis nerii. Sometimes an aphid will get on a caterpillar and the caterpillar will twitch, as if the aphid is attempting to insert its sucking mouthpart and it hurts.