I hope you are all healthy and safe. The new Covid-19 virus is nothing to mess with. Please stay safe. I have been doing a lot of mail orders instead of getting out and about. I'm glad the shed is finished. I had envisioned a slow start, getting things all in order, arranging things and getting my milkweed plants planted ready for Monarchs. Well, mother nature had a different idea for me. The day I moved into the shed, I looked out at my last year's milkweed in the garden and noticed a butterfly. I thought surely not on March 19, 2020, did I already get Monarch eggs??? Yes, I did! I got 10 eggs deposited on the smallest milkweed leaves of my newly emerged Butterfly Weed. I brought them in and started the process of the watch. They started to emerge on Tuesday, March 24th. The tiniest caterpillars I have ever seen. I've been carefully cleaning their containers all week and they are growing like crazy. I have had 3 casualties. 2 caterpillars just didn't make it - got caught up in the lid and paper towel. The other one just didn't hatch. It is expected but I'm still a little disheartened.
I did gain 7 new caterpillars from the two butterfly weed plants I ordered. I had planted them and left them in my shed to grow to feed my new baby caterpillars. Little did I know and being such a "newb" at this there were eggs on these two new plants. Today, Kevin and I went out to check on things and he said, "There is something eating your plants." I'm like - What? As I get closer I said, "Oh My Goodness there are caterpillars everywhere. Hitchhikers." I have safely added them to their own butterfly cage to separate them from my other group. I've heard it is always a good idea in case they may have OE (OE – Ophryocystis elektroscirrha). If I would have known or inspected closer, I could have bleached the eggs before they hatched but I didn't. So now they will stay in their own place and hope for the best.
It's been a fast and furious few weeks for sure. I got the majority of my planting done yesterday. Setting out my seed starts with Dahlia, Lemon Jalapeno, Yarrow, and Coneflowers. They were about 6"-8" and ready to be in the ground. I planted Lantana, Pincushion, and Lavendar from a nursery curbside pick-up. I really wanted a few others but want to pick them out myself and did not want to go inside. They will wait. I've got plenty to do for now. I'm starting my direct sow seeds today of 3 different types of Zinnia, Batchelor's Button, and Phlox. I sure hope they are successful.
I'm going to leave you with a few pictures showing the progress of the caterpillars, hummingbird moth, and a tree. I'll try and get a garden pictures soon. I'm including a picture of a tree that is a host to overnight roost of Monarchs in my backyard. How lucky can I be!!! The hummingbird moth was a delight. I was just sitting out in my backyard and kept feeling something bump my knee. I was focused on my phone and thought it was Peyton, my ball loving Boston Terrier. After about the 3rd bump, I noticed the hummingbird moth. I hit the camera on my phone so fast and got them a quick shot. After that, he flew away and I haven't seen him since. It was a great surprise. Enjoy!