You’ve heard the statement, “Three’s a crowd!” Well, in the monarch world the same holds true. Laying eggs on healthy, lush milkweed plants is extraordinarily important. Emerging monarch caterpillars chew, munch and devour their own eggshell for nourishment, but they may also ingest the eggshell of another if close by.

PHOTO: Holli Webb Hearn

For this reason the female seeks to lay her eggs very carefully – only one egg per plant. Notice the differences between the egg photos in this post! They tell a story.

When milkweed is scarce and a shortage affects the habitat, seeking out viable plants becomes difficult. The female reverts to laying more than one egg on the same leaf or plant. Also, if she is very tired near the end of her laying period, she may place three or more on the same leaf. “Egg loading” can occur when milkweed is not plentiful. Planting milkweed and nectar producing flowers to replenish deficiencies in the habitat is crucial to the future of the monarch butterfly… and the bees!