Look what I found this evening in the milkweed patch! I've been searching all summer long for monarch eggs or caterpillars, suffering monarch envy at the project Bev at Burning Silo has going on, and had about given up on finding any this season. I'm so tickled to have spotted this!
I'm guessing the caterpillar will make its chrysalis on the underside of this snakeroot leaf. I've never come upon a monarch caterpillar in this state before; they always go missing just when they get big and fat, but according to what I've read on the Monarch Watch website the caterpillars wander until they find a suitable site and then form this "prepupal J" before shedding their skin for the final time. I'm hoping that in the morning I'll find a beautiful chrysalis in just this spot.
I've been amusing myself the past few weeks by watching the development of the many groups of milkweed bugs that are feeding on the Swamp Milkweed seed pods. Yesterday I found that many in this group were in the process of shedding their skins to adulthood. Other seed pods have bugs in various stages of development and in the last few days I've found many of the very tiny ones that I had at first thought were aphids. I thought the pic at right was interesting because you can see one bug (almost in the center of the pic) who still looks somewhat transparent. I don't know whether the black coloration is in the wings or on the body itself, but this one's wings are clear and it's very light orange compared to the others. Upwards to the left of that bug and below to the right are the shed skins of others. Not the greatest of pics... I apologize. Click on the photo to enlarge and you may actually be able to see what I'm talking about!
signs of Summer
23 hours ago