I bring in every egg I find in my garden but....I note you mentioned "black lines" ....How can you tell if a caterpillar is healthy? Because what stops me from bringing caterpillars in is the fear that a wasp or fly has laid eggs in them.I know I should be more "scientific" about it.. but the thought of a wasp emerging from a chrysalis disturbs me.
Wow, that is a gross thought. I hadnt really been thinking of that. I am so overwhelmed at this point, I have stopped taking in eggs and am only taking in little caterpillars. I never stopped to think that something may have gotten to them already.
Maybe John can tell us if these eggs lay dormant the whole time and something horrible pops out like a jack in the box type of thing when the butterfly is supposed to emerge. Or if there are signs we can look for along the way if we brought home a day or two day old caterpillar.
On Wednesday, I ended up finding eight little caterpillars in a nice milkweed patch near my work. I also got a lot of leaves. I checked my milkweed patch near home on Wednesday night and everything looks so bad, like predators have invaded. I found one little caterpillar and so much leaf destruction that I felt bad and started taking in eggs even though after my last experience, I wasnt going to try that anymore.
Most of the eggs have hatched. I had to go out to get more big leaves today for the big guys and little leaves for the little guys. The patch looks horrible. I dont know if I picked too many leaves or the predators did it. I left all the eggs as I can not handle any more at this point but did take the two little caterpillars I found. When I went to rinse all the leaves off, I saw I had accidentally brought in six eggs, so I had to put them in a little baggie. I wish I could take all the eggs, but this is taking hours a day to feed everyone and clean the cages and also I dont have the space. Today I actually had to get up for a 2:30 AM feeding! Ack!