Last fall, Northern Gardener published an article on ways to attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden. In it, Tom and Donna Krischan recommended a plant called bloodflower milkweed (Asclepias curassavica). The plant is known as a terrific food source for Monarch caterpillars.
I ordered some seeds, then promptly forgot why. I thought this was just a fancy butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) which is known for its bright orange flowers that attract butterflies. So, thinking it would be fun to have butterflies on the porch, I planted some of the seedlings in one of my pots. Imagine my surprise this past weekend when I went on the porch and discovered a horde of caterpillars munching away. Within about 12 hours, they had consumed the entire plant, except for the stalks. (See the photo below for the current appearance.)
I’m not sure where all these caterpillars came from, and according to Tom’s article, they are now hanging on a branch somewhere nearby waiting to emerge as butterflies. I can hardly wait until they come back!