Thursday, August 24, 2006

a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i.... J !!!

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!

6 comments:

Susan Gets Native said...

I DO see what you mean! Maybe that little guy just decided to go pastel?
I mean, black and orange is Sooo last year.

NatureWoman said...

Nice caterpillar find - how exciting!!!! And the insects are cool too!

Michelle said...

My oh my the things I have learned from reading your blog :) I see those orange and black bugs all the time but never knew what they were.

We have lots of butterflies this year - many more than usual. We "grew" butterflies one year and it was a very neat exercise.

DEBBIE said...

LAURA I AM ALL ABOUT NATURE, BUT NOT THE BUGS.....GROSS...I WILL STICK TO THE BIRDS.

LauraHinNJ said...

Deb: You crack me up. Enjoy your vacation.

Michelle: Glad to be of service. ;-) At least you're not grossed out by them. I've never grown a caterpillar - must be fun to do.

Thanks, naturewoman!

Susan: Today they all looked the same - guess black and orange hasn't gone completely out yet.

Linda said...

Great photo of the caterpillar - I could do without the milkweed bugs - couldn't believe how many there were once I clicked on the phot