Monday, June 6, 2016

Butterfly Garden Notes, June 5, 2016

This weekend had its ups and downs in the butterfly garden.  I’ll start with the good...  One of the monarch caterpillars that has been consuming the milkweed has become a chrysalis.  I named him Harry Houdini due to the fact that he crawled off the milkweed, disappeared and then kept reappearing in random places around my patio.  Saturday afternoon, fat and happy Harry ventured off in search of a place to pupate.  I thought for sure I’d never see him again, but as I was rearranging plants later that afternoon, I saw him crawling up a shelf on the opposite side of the patio.  I only took my eye off him for a moment and “poof!”, he was gone again.  I was confident that that was the last I’d see him, but to my surprise, Sunday afternoon I discovered him hanging in a “J” under a clematis vine leaf!  I was so excited I ran in the house shouting with glee!  My poor husband who had been taking a nap was abruptly woken up by my singing and dancing around the house.  Obviously, I insisted he come with me immediately to the patio to see J hanging Harry.  I knew it wouldn’t be long if all went well until he became a chrysalis, and sure enough, this morning he had transformed into a beautiful green pupa.
Now onto the sad news… The other monarch caterpillar who I named Dora the Explorer because she left the milkweed and crawled onto another plant to molt, was found DOA in the milkweed Sunday morning.  She had what appeared to be white threads hanging from her body which would indicate she may have fallen victim to a Tachinid fly.  In addition, I notice one of the freshly hatched caterpillars was dead, and I did not see any of the others (there were at least 3 brand new ones that had just hatched this week).  I’m hoping some of the others are still alive and I just didn’t spot them since they’re so tiny, but I’m not getting my hopes up.  
As for butterfly sightings this weekend, I saw the usual suspects; Funereal Duskywing, Fiery Skippers, Orange Sulphur and Cabbage White.  As for uniques, I saw a Common Checkered Skipper who I managed to get a photo of on the flowers in front of the house.  I’d never seen one this color before, and it’s body was a beautiful shade of light blue.  Lastly, I should make note that I did see what may have been a monarch flying around the courtyard Saturday morning as I was returning home.  I’m not 100% certain that it was a monarch though because it was a little far away and seemed to just be passing by without stopping by my garden.

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