Revenge of the Monarch

This is the whole point, right? A new butterfly, hiding under a leaf next to her chrysalis husk. She’ll dry off, harden up, get ready for the world. And what a world! Is this the generation that is Mexico-bound? I’m guessing so since it’s already mid-September. How does she know? Remarkably, these long-distance, south-bound migrants can live up to nine months, compared to the 2-5 weeks of summer generations. How do other caterpillars know not to eat the leaf this pupa is hanging from, or do they? Two more. My eyes are getting better at this. Both suspended from the milkweed leaf’s midrib. Did they do it at the same time or did one follow the other, as if it was a good place, or is it just random? Monarch sex determination is set at fertilization. There’s a way a tell if the pupa is male or female, evidently, but you have to look closely, and I’m not handling any of these since I follow the Prime Directive. Here’s a Spined Soldier Bug adult sucking the life out of one of the caterpillars. I’ve been seeing the nymph stage assassins at work, but this is the first adult I’ve seen.Saw about three dozen live caterpillars in action, September 6th, overcast hot and grossly humid, and a trio of dead or dying.

3 Responses to “Revenge of the Monarch”

  1. 1 Bernie Kasper September 15, 2018 at 9:47 am

    Thanks for sharing all these great pics !!

  2. 2 George Cumming September 15, 2018 at 10:04 am

    I am a subscriber and was pleasantly surprised to realize that the author of a recent article about Pogo and the author of my favorite urban nature blog were the same person. I enjoyed Pogo very much when I was much younger. My brother could recite Pogo poetry at will. Walt Kelly deserves to be more appreciated. I used to live next to Logan Airport in Boston and for years enjoyed our local breeding pair of Kestrels. They nested on the roof of Suffolk Downs race track where the employees were careful not to disrupt them. Then they disappeared for a few years. Later they returned to a new nesting location which I never discovered but they still hunt the Belle Isle Marsh which is directly beneath the flight path to Logan. Thank you for writing about Pogo and kestrels. I enjoy your writing.

    • 3 mthew September 15, 2018 at 11:01 am

      Thank you, George!

      My father, born in Jamaica Plain, turned me on to Pogo (which, for other readers I write about here). He was a big fan in the 1950s, the perfect time, evidently, since college students were some of Kelly’s biggest fans. A WWII vet, he went to BU and graduated in ’52 on the GI Bill, the first in his family to go to college or university. His falling-to-pieces paperback collections absorbed my attention in the 1970s. I have to admit not getting a lot of the dialog, puns, language play until later, but I loved Kelly’s sumptuous ink line. Later I would find reprints and the like to send to my dad; a sweatshirt with the lyrics of the Old Original Charlie was prized until it was no longer wearable. Alas, he passed away before this Fantagraphics series of clothbound editions started. I don’t know if I’ll get the whole run (small apartment, big books!) or even live that long (it’s taking forever to do them, but they are very handsome when they show up), but I’m certainly looking forward to the 5th volume next month.

      Isn’t it remarkable how Kestrels can tolerate such conditions as jets flying not so far overhead? An abandoned airfield here in NYC, Floyd Bennett, now has somewhat managed grasslands that often are excellent places to see Kestrels hunting over, while flights in and out of JRK lumber overhead.

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