And Now…It’s Time For Something Completely Different
None of the usual wading birds and alligators today, instead I have a more unusual aspect of nature and wildlife to present.
We generally have a small garden with potted flowers just outside our back screened porch.
However, this past Spring we decided to try something different, and use plants that are known to attract butterflies, especially the Monarchs. These plants include milkweed and fennel, some of which we grew from seed, and we already had large pots of Mexican Petunias for the butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds to feed on. For the past month or so we began to notice an increase in butterfly traffic, some of which we hoped were laying eggs. A few weeks ago we began to see some scattered caterpillars among the milkweed and fennel and we noticed two types. The ones with spots and stripes we learned, were Swallowtail, while the Monarch caterpillars were just stripey.
It wasn’t long before we had our first chrysalis but not from a Monarch, it was a likely a Black Swallowtail, who it turns out, are partial to fennel. Soon though, we had Monarch caterpillars coming out of our ears. They are voracious eaters of the milkweed and within days had almost completely stripped the plants of most of the foliage. This required an emergency supplement of butternut squash this morning which the caterpillars also began to devour.
We also had an unusual sighting of a pale Luna Moth, which was exciting because they’re rarely seen during the day! It stayed motionless on a leaf for a couple of hours before finally flying off. A Monarch who after emerging, will also stay still in one spot drying and stretching it’s wings before starting it’s new life.
So far, we have yet to see a Monarch chrysalis but expect to start seeing those soon. This entire process amazes us and is a true miracle of nature, when the caterpillar ceases to exist, and in it’s place, a beautiful, delicate butterfly will emerge.