Can a Milkweed Plant Grow Fast Enough?
A Photo Study by Mrs. Marcy Cunkleman

Day 1: April 28
This monarch is laying eggs in Mrs. Cunkleman's garden in Pennsylvania. Look at the tiny milkweed! It's only 3 inches tall. Notice how many eggs the butterfly is laying. When milkweed is in short supply, a monarch may lay more than one egg per plant. Mrs. Cunkleman worried about the egg-loaded milkweed:

  • Will the plants grow fast enough to feed the hungry larvae?

While she waited for the eggs to hatch, Mrs. Cunkleman measured the milkweed in her garden, and took photos to document changes.

Day 9: May 7
The milkweed is already 8 inches tall. No eggs have hatched. Cool spring temperatures have slowed the eggs' development time. In warm summer temperatures, monarch eggs hatch after only 2-3 days.

Day 14: May 12
The milkweed is 12-16 inches tall. The eggs have finally hatched.

Look how much the milkweed grew in 14 days!
The milkweed had 2 weeks to grow before the eggs hatched. Do you think there will be enough milkweed to feed the hungry caterpillars?

Eating and Growing
How much milkweed do larvae eat and how quickly do they grow?

Monarch or Milkweed: Which Grows Faster?
It takes about two weeks for monarch caterpillars to grow this much in warm summer temperatures. Can a milkweed plant grow fast enough to feed a hungry caterpillar?

  • Try This! Do a photo study in your butterfly habitat. How will your observations compare what Mrs. Cunkleman discovered?