Posts Tagged ‘monarch’

Monarch Chrysalis

On one of my walks around the backyard looking for spiders, I found a monarch butterfly chrysalis in an old garage that will be torn down soon.

I watched the chrysalis— daily, waiting for the butterfly to emerge.

Then the chrysalis turned slightly darker.  I expected the butterfly to emerge soon … It did, but I wasn’t there to watch it.

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Sedum Visitors

I’m back! We’ve had company, and they kept me busy a lot of the time. The best medicine after they left was to walk around the yard, checking what and who’s here, and what’s blooming.

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  The monarch butterfly and

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the painted lady both like the sedum.

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The silver-spotted skipper is quite a common skipper. They visit a variety of flowers.

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The clouded Sulphur also likes the sedums. It’s obvious I have a lot of sedum, and a lot of butterflies in a good butterfly year in my gardens.

 I know there’s been others I’ve missed while entertaining company.

Asters And No Butterflies

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You can tell butterfly numbers are low when there are no butterflies on the summer farewell asters.

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 Their numbers have been low all summer, and I’m not sure why.

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The asters grow to six or more feet tall.

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One summer they were in full bloom when the monarch butterflies were migrating south. It was so dramatic, I just couldn’t stay in the house. There would be up to 50 or more monarch fluttering around the asters at any one time!

Monarch Caterpillar

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You know it’s been a slow butterfly year when I find my first two monarch caterpillars on August 19.

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The aphids didn’t look overly tasty.

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I found another caterpillar later that day. They usually feed on the underside of the leaf where predators are less likely to find them.

The milky sap of the milkweeds makes them toxic to predators.

Spined Soldier Bug

An upside down moth’s a clue of a predator. (They weren’t in this position when I started snapping pictures.)

It turned out to be a spined soldier bug finishing its meal. They are a common predatory stink bug (Podisus maculiventris) found through out the U.S.

They commonly feed on larvae of beetles and moths. The one above has a monarch caterpillar. (Picture from a previous year.) How could it even hold the weight of that caterpillar!

The spined soldier bug’s about 1/2 inch long and has a prominent spine on each shoulder. Their color varies from yellowish to pale browns.

Summer Farewell

A friend of mine gave me these asters she called summer farewell.

They’ve been well-behaved over the 15 years or so they’ve grown in my butterfly garden. They’ve bloomed with gusto every fall and stayed “contained” in their original place. The base of the clump measures roughly 4×5 feet.

Butterflies, bees and other insects can’t resist the meal they have to offer. Painted ladies (like the one above) are the most common butterfly now in my yard.

The cabbage white didn’t stay long at any one flower.

Common buckeyes bask often and are a more patient feeder.

Several species of fold-winged skippers visit the summer farewell too. This is male sachem.

Recent nights with temperatures in mid 30’s greatly reduced the insect/butterfly numbers. One summer, a great butterfly year, monarchs had started their migration south. Summer farewell was in full bloom, standing 5-6 feet tall.

Fifty to 75 monarchs nectared at the asters at the same time. It was so dramatic and kept me occupied for the couple of days they were here. This didn’t include all the other butterfly species visiting the asters too.

Such an accurance always takes presidence over domestic duties where I’m concerned.

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Please excuse the quality of the last picture.

I saw very few monarchs in my yard this summer, and none were a male. The way to tell a male from a female monarch is by the black spot on the vein of a male’s hindwing.