Saturday, September 1, 2012

Monarch Butterfly and Caterpillar on Milkweed and Ironweed

It saddens me that all the wayside meadows, hedgerows and edges of weeds
are being eradicated from our landscapes to give into paved roads and sidewalks
with the only natural areas heavily controlled. Where does the wild one have to live?

In the old days there was a tale that it was ill advised to cut down all the wild,
instead you were told to leave a place where the wild could be free because that was
where the fairies lived and what kind of world would we live in where fairies didn't live free? Sigh..... but nobody believes like that anymore and we think we can just cut it all down and remake it like we want it and not let any of the wild back in.

So, we don't let the thistle, burdock, nettle and milkweed grow because they look too weedy and wild. Yet, without them we lose many butterflies and birds that depend on them for survival. I don't think we even know yet what all we might be destroying with our need to change and control without learning first.

Seems we cannot change the world but we decided to change our yard. There are many wild places here, prime fairy habitat. We brought in native weeds and after many tries and failures we finally had milkweed growing in our gardens and one sweet morning I discovered what I believed to be Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars munching down on the milkweed leaves.

 I ran in the house to find my butterfly field-guide books and sure enough it was  future monarchs devouring our milkweed plants. I only had two of the specimens and I thought for sure the three caterpillars, at the rate they were eating, were going to eat the plant all up. They left little brown balls of their poop all over the leaves, rather sloppy fellows (  :

When they slept they hid under the leaves. Then one day I looked all over the plants and under the leaves but they were gone. I looked for them everywhere as I have read in, Anna Botsford Comstock's, Handbook of Nature Study, " The monarch chrysalis is, I maintain, the most beautiful gem in Nature's jewel casket;" I also read that they could crawl up to 20 feet away from their host plant to mutate and try as I might I could not find their well hidden chrysalis.

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar 
Monarch Butterfly on the Ironweed in our front yard.

 The caterpillars thankfully did not eat all the milkweed before they disappeared and hid their chryslis from me. Just the other day there were two brand new monarch butterflies drying their wings on the ironweed in the front yard, it must have been them!

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