Posts Tagged 'invertebrates'

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.

Planet of the Monarchs

Yes, please! A veritable orgy of caterpillars. I counted 47 in Green-Wood on the morning of September 5th. I have never seen so many, anywhere.I went early to avoid the heat, but phew, it was still pretty beastly. Obviously, I can’t survey the milkweed further in this tight little meadow. There are probably more caterpillars to be found within.Of note, another nearby patch of milkweed isn’t showing nearly the same level of activity as this one. I wonder why? It gets more shade: could the female butterflies, who lay one egg per plant, skip it more often for this patch, which is in the sun all day long?Found one new pupa/chrysalis, for total of three in process.Many of the caterpillars were late-stage, the big fat ones in the last of five instars before pupation. This one has begun to pupate, anchoring and turning up.24 hours later. Note the two silk anchors; I haven’t seen these before. This chrysalis is high up above the meadow’s average height, so is this extra protection from the wind? 30 hours after that, those two silk strands were gone.But not everybody gets that far.Here’s another goner. Note the killer, a nymph Spined Soldier Bug. True bugs suck, literally. And the other living (munching) caterpillar nearby; these larval stage Monarchs have six simple eyes, but don’t see very well.Another shout-out to Green-Wood for planting milkweed. The end result looks like hell, but as is so often the case, looks are deceiving. This is paradise.

The CCR’s legal briefing on civil disobedience.

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.

Two Butterflies

Milkweed Continues

Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus) on common milkweed pod.

This I learned: a note in Evan’s NWF Field Guide to Insects and Spiders says this species has been used extensively in physiological experiments. Easy to raise, they were also used to test insecticides from the 1940s. Carolina Biological Supply sells them for uses in experiments “from biochemistry to behavior.”

My favorite among the McCain hagiographies was the ex-GOP operative — with second thoughts about her party’s direction now that it’s too late — who envisioned McCain joining Aretha Franklin in heaven’s “freshman” section! Pretty good ascension for a man who voted against MLK. Jr. Day, rarely saw a war or bloated defense budget he didn’t like, and tirelessly fought against sanctions against apartheid in South Africa.

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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