No, it's not a Monarch caterpillar.
It's a light green caterpillar that's wrapped in a web. They're everywhere! And they've decimated my milkweed -almost nothing left to feed the Monarchs
No, It's a light green caterpillar that's wrapped in a web - 100x the size of an aphid
It's a moth larva of some type. Moths can usually feed on many food sources, including Milkweed. Just move them far away and they'll find something else to munch on.
I am new to milkweed. I planted several plants this summer. The flowers and leaves were beautiful and I had one caterpiller. As the summer went on into August, red beetles showed up and ate every leaf on my plants! The caterpillar disappeared. All I have left of my plants are long spindly stems.I have no leaves on my milkweed plants. I've researched and read that the red bugs are okay. Are they really?? Should I cut back the plants? Where do I go from here? Help!
To colmoguez: Those red beetles were probably the Milkweed Bug. I've heard all sorts of negatives about them (they DO eat blooms, seeds and leaves), but I don't think they strip the plant unless you have thousands of them. So it probably was your caterpillar (and possibly other caterpillars you didn't see) who ate the leaves.
Hopefully, the caterpillar(s) disappeared because it wandered off, formed a chrysalis and ultimately became a butterfly.
As for your milkweed... hasn't it begun putting out new leaves on ends of the stems? Even so, unless you're in Zone 9, it's doubtful it will rebound much before cold weather.
If you're in Zone 7 or below, the plant will probably freeze to the ground during the winter. If not, and if you have tropical milkweed, prune it back to the ground well before spring.
The Milkweed bugs will return. And milkweed is also a magnet for aphids. If you're planning for your milkweed to be a safe host for Monarchs, you can't use pesticides. So, before the butterflies begin laying their eggs in Spring and Fall, simply use a strong stream of water to wash away the bugs (support the head of the plant -or wherever the bugs are -with your hand and spray away. The plant will take a beating, but it will soon bounce back)
If possible, use cuttings or seeds from your plant to start new plants...horror stories abound about "safe" milkweed that had -- unknown to the seller -- been sprayed with pesticides before it left the grower and ultimately killed caterpillars.
If you don't have any choice than to buy, then make sure to buy new plants at least TWO months before Monarch migration
Probably not what you have, but just in case...these can, if there's enough of them, strip and even sometimes kill a milkweed plant.
Here is a link that might be useful: Swamp Milkweed Beetle
No, that's not what I've seen on mine. But isn't it amazing the number of critters who feast on the poor milkweed!
There is also a tussock moth that I saw completely strip a milkweed plant this summer. All that was left was a single stalk that was literally engulfed by a solid layer of thick fuzz that was about one hundred moth cats. Apparently they don't travel to find another plant, because there were nearby plants that were untouched.