This morning I had a treat waiting for me when I visited my butterfly garden: the (alleged) Monarch butterfly eggs have hatched! It took three days from the time I first noticed the eggs. They're tiny yet, not even 1 x 3 millimeter in size, and they barely look like anything yet. (They bear a creepy resemblance to tiny maggots right now ... eww.) I will be keeping a close eye on them over the next two weeks while they grow. At two weeks, they should be fat, 2-inch caterpillars with black, white, and yellow stripes, assuming they are in fact Monarchs. Here's the picture I snapped today:
The thing that makes me wonder if they are Monarchs is that the eggs were laid in a cluster, rather than dotted all around the underside of the leaf as I have read Monarchs do. It could be that my Monarch mom was an anomaly. It could even be that these are a whole different species of butterfly ... though from everything I've read, if you find butterfly eggs on a milkweed, they're bound to be Monarch eggs. Time will tell! If you want to learn more about the Monarch butterfly life cycle, which takes about a month to complete from egg to adult, visit Rose Franklin's Monarch Metamorphosis page!