It was a beautiful Labor Day holiday here at Our Little Acre, though a tad bit warm for our tastes at 90°. The humidity was low and there was a slight breeze though, so that made it better, especially in the shade.
I worked in the garden, deadheading and watering, and as I made my way around the back of Max's Garden, I looked down and there on the ground under the stone bench, was a big fat Monarch caterpillar. What was he doing way over here? The nearest Asclepias was at least 25-30 feet away.
Ahhhh ... I know. He was looking for a safe place to hang out for a week or so while he spent some time becoming a butterfly!
As he crawled along, he eventually came to one of the bench's legs. He crawled right up the side of it, very slowly, lifting his head periodically and swinging it around to look for any signs of danger. He continued upward until he reached the bottom of the bench, where he crawled out a little ways, then stayed there for a couple of hours.
Though I've seen many a Monarch caterpillar in our gardens over the last couple of years, I've yet to find a chrysalis there. They're pretty sneaky about where they go to take care of the business of metamorphosis. It's a very vulnerable time in the life of a butterfly, so it needs to be in an out-of-the-way place.
I continued to do my work in the garden, picking tomatoes and green beans, potting up one of the bougainvilleas, planting a couple of new plants, and the seemingly never-ending chore of watering. When I went to the bench to check on the caterpillar, he was gone! While I thought that would have been a great place for a chrysalis, apparently there was something he just didn't like.
Looking around for a little bit, I found him about two feet away, in the middle of the hardy Hibiscus 'Fireball'. He'd crawled up about two feet and was on the underside of a leaf, in the 'J' position. Now this was exciting, because now that he'd picked a spot, I was going to be able to watch the process of shedding his skin for the final time and becoming a chrysalis. I'd missed it last year, when I had a good chance of seeing it.
I grabbed a beach towel and plopped myself on the ground to watch. I snapped a couple of pictures ...
It became too dark for me to see, so reluctantly, I went inside but made plans to return periodically, flashlight in hand, so that I still might get to see more of the process. I've made two trips out there to check on our little guy, but there have been no changes and now it's time for bed. I just know it will all be over by morning, but maybe I'll get lucky!