Posts Tagged 'butterflies'

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.

Realm of the Monarchs

A brand new female. Will she make it down to Mexico?We’re celebrating Monarch’s all this week. But don’t let my anecdotal enthusiasm delude you. Monarchs in a frightful state.

AFSC’s guide to civil disobedience.


The pupal stage of the Monarch is suspended a cremaster attached to a silk base.Isn’t it amazing? Begs the question why we think we need religion and other fantasies when life is so interesting.In a morning of ferocious heat, I counted 19 caterpillars and three pupae or chrysalises in a patch of milkweed and other plants. I’m sure there were more.The colors of the scales on the wings are the last thing to develop.Here’s an empty husk of a chrysalis. If you plant it, they’ll come… sometimes. Green-Wood has made some effort to put in a few patches of Common Milkweed. It’s a messy affair: devoured, shat upon, not at all the landscaping you would expect in a traditional cemetery. Our hats go off to them.Two of the three pupae I spotted were on a human structure. That probably made them easier to see. This late instar caterpillar is heading down-stem. Did it not like this grass as a place to anchor and transform?

ACT UP’s index on civil disobedience.

Monarchy Nears

Prepare for a week of Monarchs! Plant more milkweed! There are around 25 caterpillars in the patch pictured, and they have done an epic job of defoliating these plants down to the bone. All that milkweed energy is going into metamorphosis. (Unless it’s going into a Spined Soldier Bug!)

Monarch Labor Day

Monarch caterpillars famously withstand the toxic sap of milkweeds. They themselves become toxic to predators by eating milkweed. This gaudy circus look is the opposite of camouflage: it’s a warning!

But they don’t want to drown in the sap. This caterpillar chewed away at the stem, or petiole, of this leaf to cut the plant’s circulation to this particular leaf. Of course, this undermined the leaf’s stability, and with the weight of the very hungry caterpillar underneath it, the leaf drooped vertically.

After cutting the leaf’s throat, so to speak, the VHC turned around and started munching away at the leafy greens.

Look at those antenna go…These two eating scenes were taken four minutes apart.Nearby was a younger caterpillar, that is, an earlier instar or stage.A third, late-instar stage specimen had just finished a leaf; you can see how this leaf, too, is bent downwards from the petiole undermining. A lot of milkweed goes into a caterpillar. Some of it comes back out.

Two Butterflies

Monarch Monday

Two plump Monarch caterpillars on some common milkweed. They looked ready for a transformation, or metamorphosis….Danaus plexippus, Asclepias syriaca.Nearby, an adult female seemed to be laying eggs. Here is one of the tiny things (I think). Will this egg open up to a caterpillar that becomes a butterfly that flies to Mexico this fall? The odds are against us, but you never know. Hope is a tiny egg on the underside of a leaf.

Corey Robin does an excellent job of defining socialism.


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