In Which I Share My Butterfly-ing Method With You. AKA: Welcome To Monarchs 101

It’s been a while since I’ve graced your presence with butterflies. Did you miss them?

Do you see the second monarch? twinning!

It’s been a challenge to save the world butterflies while traveling so much. I became busy. Life got in the way. I became distracted.

What was I talking about?

Oh, yeah! Last week I was checking on the irrigation near one of my Giant Milkweed plants when I noticed my biggest nemesis: an effing wasp who was trying to eat monarch caterpillars. It’s what they do.

At that moment, I could not recall where my electric swatter was, so I did the next best thing: I took off my flip flop and proceeded to chase the bastard away from the caterpillars. He got away and I knew he would be back as soon as I was out of sight.

*raises fists in dispair*

I gathered as many caterpillars as I could save and brought them in for safe keeping. Apparently if I don’t control nature, bad things happen. I’ve not been collecting them since we’ve been gone so much. I can ask my house/dog sitter to do a lot of things for me, but feeding and cleaning up after caterpillars might be over the top.

I easily fell back into my old routine: delivering fresh food to them daily; Uber eats without the extra fees.


Do you see those little tiny black spots? Those are eggs that are close to hatching. When the egg is first laid, it’s whitish-yellow and get’s darker as it progresses.

Fun fact: When the baby hatches, its first meal is its shell. Which is the equivalent of a human baby eating its amnionic sac. Which is probably better than your toddler eating processed chicken nuggets.


Caterpillars poop A LOT. It’s generally dark green from the milkweed leaves; their poop is little blobs that are small for the tiniest of cats, but get larger as they grow. I was feeding them some purple flowers from my Giant Milkweed and I noticed the cats eating the flowers had purply poop. Science ya’ll.

I knew that telling you this would enhance your life greatly.


Did you know that monarch caterpillars molt five times in their life cycle? They’re so efficient that when they shed their old skin, they EAT it. The molting process takes about 18-20 hours.

This guy and his old skin. He’s contemplating on which end to start eating first. Choices elude me too buddy. . .

When they grow out of their skin, they also grow out of their FACE (cap).

I often find old face caps laying around. You too?

New face

Just like humans, caterpillars have personalities. Sometimes when I pick one up, they’ll crawl all over the place (while leaving a silk trail on my skin in case they fall) and some will just shut down, curl into a ball and wait for me to put them down.

introvert VS extrovert

Another Fun Fact: Here in hawt Florida, we have butterflies all.year.round. There is no migrating for My Monarchs, as they love the weather.

The other day I went to add in some fresh food after someone contacted me via my Milkweed Eats app and I noticed this guy was getting ready to create his chrysalis. Please admire this sped-up video because I thought I might need an arm transplant from holding the damn phone for so long.

Ok. Sorry. That was a lot of movement. If you now have debilitating vertigo, please do not contact a lawyer. I swear, I thought I was moving in SLOW MOTION while using Time-Lapse.

Here is the shed skin that I often find after they create their chrysalis.

Now that I think about it, these guys are slobs. They poop everywhere and leave their skin and faces for me to clean up as if I have nothing else to do.

Once the chrysalis has hardened, (at least 24 hours later) I’ll spritz it with some water to loosen up the silk and move the chrysalis to a more convenient-for-me-to-release spot. (I use an old styrofoam cooler; I pin the chrysalis by their silk into the side of the cooler and cover with cheese cloth)

Monarch chrysalis on left, Queen chrysalis on the right

{BTW: Moths create cocoons, butterflies create chrysalis. When I hear someone refer to a butterfly coming out of a cocoon, I want to gently poke them in the eye with a spoon.}

In 9- 10 days, they will eclose; generally in the morning and I’ll release them in the afternoon IF it is dry and sunny. If it’s a stormy day, I’ll keep them contained as they don’t eat for the the first 24 hours anyway.

This is a Queen Butterfly, before and after. They are very similar to monarchs; they eat the same food, create the same chrysalis and have the same lifecycle, but for some reason there isn’t the same amount of hoopla over them.

Did you enjoy my Master Class?

I really should charge money for this, but I’ve always been more of a giver than a taker.


How Easy Going Am I? And The Services I Offer Are Pretty Special.

I had my annual eye appointment last week; I had put it off for two years and couldn’t any longer. I filled out all my paperwork online, but when I arrived, they had this additional survey for me; the scale on the bottom made me giggle.

Where would you be on the scale? Closer to easy going, or near perfectionist?

FYI, my eyesight is still 20/20. Thank you laser vision surgery. Now, if only I had actual Laser Vision, I could rule the world.

BTW: I chose closer to easy going. If the Coach reads this, he’s laughing his azz off. But I think it’s true. Maybe. Kinda. Actually, I think I was just caught off guard as I was pondering taking up Shooting/Hunting as a hobby for myself.


I found a milkweed plant in one area of my garden that was DECIMATED; Stripped down to a bare stalk with not a leaf to its name.

And then I found the culprits.

The natives monarch caterpillars were getting restless looking for food. Luckily, I had a full, healthy milkweed plant on the other side of the yard, so I did what any normal EASY GOING person would do: I transported them to the full plant.

Hello, my name is Suzanne, and today I’ll be your travel agent and chef.

Hay, ladi, coud u pease put me were da fud is?

Thank goodness that survey didn’t ask anything about my trying to control nature.

The feet! The filaments! I think they are the damn cutest things ever. I have to hold back on hugging them tightly because, you know, squishing.

So, would you classify yourself as Easy Going? More importantly why would my Eye Dr. Care? It’s not like we’re going to date or anything.


The One Where I {should} Finally Get A Network TV Show

Tuesday evening I was in the backyard with the pups and they were doing what pups do and I was doing what I do; checking out my plants, caterpillars and having gentle conversations with butterflies passing me by. (I feel the need to tell each one how beautiful they are; I can’t help it) I noticed an old, withered monarch sitting in the grass. They don’t usually hang out in the grass, so I picked her up and put her on a salvia bloom safely out of Lillies mouth reach. I immediately recognized her as I’ve seen her flitting about my various garden areas over the past few days; she was recognizable by her one partial and almost see-through wings. She has seen some days and lots of weather. Monarchs here generally live 2-6 weeks and I’d say she’s seen close to six weeks from the looks of her.

I decided she might need a little help in the food department and who can turn down a juicy tangerine? No one, that’s who.

You can see her proboscis reaching out for nectar; this is the little tube they ingest their food from. I squeezed the tangerine to make more juice for her; this is the equivalent of a bartender filling up my wine glass. MORE, please.

Honestly, we don’t hear that many planes over our house so I can only assume that was the Discovery Channel or Nat Geo coming in close for a story.

*Still waiting for them to make an offer I can’t refuse contact*

I saw her a few times on Wednesday as well; still flying, eating, acting as she should.

On Thursday morning we found her again in the grass and moved her onto a plant for some nutrients. She’s missing a bit more of her wing but seems to be in good spirits. I mean, if she was in bad spirits she was disguising it. One thing I’ve noticed over the last few days was that the males were still coming in hot for her. Just goes to show you, Cougars also have a commodity in nature.


I’ve thought about bringing her in and placing her in a mesh cage to keep her safe and happily fed, but decided she was meant to be out there, doing her thing for the rest of her days.

I do have one monarch that I’ve had in captivity for almost 3 weeks. Don’t get all crazy and call PETA this one has a virus (using layman terms here) that is very contagious to all the caterpillars/plants/butterflies in the gardens, so it was either keep her away from the others or go all Jack Kevorkian (freezer) on her.

Suz: making life & death decisions on the daily.

Happy Friday my sweet friends. Wishing you all a peaceful (easy feeling) weekend doing something that doesn’t require life & death decisions, but if you have to: CHOOSE LIFE.

Now leave a note or I’ll put you in the freezer with the others.


It’s a poop party at the wild lime

That title sounds like some obscure fetish gathering in an underground establishment that I’d not like to visit nor be invited to.

I’m sure you remember one of my first vlogs where I shared my wild lime tree. You don’t? What the heck have you been doing aside from memorizing my yard? Well, it’s a pity because I lost that vlog during the blogger to WordPress transfer. Your life will never be the same.

Please note the vine of death in the background up there. It is actually starting to sprout leaves, someone has laid eggs on it already and yes, I still have PTSD.

We planted this tree soley for the purpose of attracting Giant Swallowtails. They also like my real citrus trees but this is not a real fruit bearing tree; it’s as fake as a Kardashian derriere.

I found three giant swallowtail caterpillars in the wild lime recently, all in different stages. Can YOU SEE THEM?

Our creator is such a genius; he made it so that the baby caterpillars look like bird poop. Hence keeping predators from eating them. Raise your hands if you’re glad he didn’t follow through with making our children look like bird poop? I mean, I’m not saying I didn’t want to nibble on my babies here and there, but had they looked like poop? Ehhh, I’ll pass and I hope this ‘phase’ passes too.

Two are still in caterpillar form, the third is in his chrysalis.

I captured brought in a baby swallowtail caterpillar in June and was hand feeding it daily. It finally had it’s fill of food and it created it’s chrysallis on July 4th. Last week, much to my surprise VOILA’, she was here just a rustling around in the styrofoam cooler where I pin all the chrysallid’s. HULLO-Lady human, I’m ready to live my best life!

This is my very first time successfully raising a Giant Swallowtail and I was so excited, so you know what I might have done-yes, Happy SHAAAAT. I carried her outside, had her on my hand and was trying to place her on a flower when she decided to come in for a closeup.

I heard her say: why u schwetty? why u slippery and smell like sunscreen? what happen to yur nek, so wrinkky.

Who knew butterflies were so DAMN judgy?

She stuck around for quite a while we had our own Glamour shot sesh.

Go ahead and comment: Pretty butterfly. You know you want to. But also, did you read the part about me almost shatting? That is what some might call quality blogging.

Well, that is enough learning for today. It’s also a reminder to apply sunscreen to your neck and decolletage. I apologize if you fell asleep in class, but that’s what you get when you stay up all night watching bad TV.