I got a surprise this weekend. I was out sweeping when I noticed this fellow chomping away at my butterfly plant (ragweed). Wow! Stripey, and with antenae at both ends. A monarch larva. I see monarchs every once in a while, but never had a caterpillar before. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one outside of photos.
When I looked a little further I found 3 of them on the mostly denuded plant. It will be interesting when they hatch out, if they make it that far. I’ve seen the gulf fritillaries chase them away. In years when there are a lot of butterflies, the territorial battles are almost constant. The battles look more like dances than wars, with butterflies swirling around. But you can hear the sound of wing buffeting wing and the loser flies away.