We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
It has been exciting this summer to see a couple of different butterfly caterpillars on native host plants in the garden. Two American painted lady caterpillars hatched on an anaphalis margaritacea (pearly everlasting) and one even attached its chrysalis to a leaf too. I wish I could have seen the butterfly emerge.
The other caterpillar I enjoyed watching was none other than a monarch, beautiful even in the larval stage. It was on an asclepius incarnata (swamp milkweed) 'Ice Ballet' which is a cultivar with white flowers.
When I first found this one it looked like a tiny spring but in no time was full grown and eating voraciously. The day I couldn't find it I can only hope it was able to crawl away safely to a place to pupate.