Friday, July 27, 2018

Morning Butterfly Post

Georgia called me out to the garden this morning to see this caterpillar that was chewing away at her Butterfly Weed. As I expected it might be, it was a Monarch Butterfly caterpillar, and it wasn't alone. There are at least three in the same area.
The Butterfly Weed is a form of Milk Weed, the sole food for Monarch caterpillars. It endows them with a superpower, that is, internal poison and bad taste that carries over into the the adult butterfly, and discourage predators.
You might remember that one year we raised a Black Swallowtail caterpillar from a tiny thing, through the chrysalis and metamorphosis to an adult. We decided not to try that here. But we are glad to see the Butterfly Weed serving as host to the Monarchs. That's one of the reasons for planting it.
Butterflying has been slow this year; I only have 23 species on this years list. It seems the cold spell in winter might have set them back. However, it seems to be picking up; the Butterfly Bush was full of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails this morning. There were a bunch of Silver Spotted Skippers, and one transient Zebra Swallowtail as well (not pictured)
A male and female share a cluster of blossoms
Two black morph Tiger Swallowtails (always female) compete with a more common yellow female.

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