Monday, September 08, 2008

Update from the Butterfly Garden

We have Monarch caterpillars! This is so exciting. Actual picture from the garden (click on oany picture for a larger version):

Monarch Caterpillar

The Monarchs kind of snuck up on us by surprise. We haven't actually noticed many Monarch butterflies. However, the caterpillars have been busy. These two pictures, stiched together, show a milkweed patch from about a week ago, and the same patch yesterday:

Monarch Milkweed Before and After

We had to relocate five pretty-good-sized (over an inch long) Monarch caterpillars to a fresh salad bar.

To give you an idea what kind of eating these creatures are up to, this is a stitched-together picture of a normal dill plant, on the left, and parsley, on the right:

Dill and Parsley Before

This is what those two plants looked like after the Black Swallowtail caterpillars were done with them:

Dill and Parsley After

Of course the plants aren't dead: The milkweed will come back, and the dill and parsley are scheduled to be planted in the new Herb Garden. In the meantime, we have butterflies on the way. And on that subject, I didn't realize that caterpillars can match the color of their chrysalis, chameleon-like, to where they decide to anchor themselves, but these stitched-together pictures are both undoubtably Black Swallowtail chrysalises, one attached to a piece of wood and one to a stalk of parsley. You can figure out for yourself which is which:

Two Black Swallowtail Chrysalises


Congratulations! Keep a close eye on the critter. Monarch chrysallises (?) are beautiful, but the amazing thing is that they turn transparent just before the butterfly emerges. I used to be a docent at a Monarch wintering area in Santa Cruz & had to learn these things - although I was fortunate enough to witness emergence only once.

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