Monarch Butterfly on native Buttonbush blossoms
David Rhinelander had one two days in a row at his garden on Pine Street, Heather Hall spotted a Monarch at the Hamilton Library, Jennie Meyer had one in her garden and sent along some photos, Donna Soodalter-Toman had one in her yard, Jen in Rockport has them, and Susan Donelan Burke saw a Monarch in Magnolia. This is very early and thank you so much to Everyone for writing!
Keep your eyes peeled for Red Admirals and Painted Ladies, too.
Red Admirals nectaring at lilacs. The last time we had so many Red Admirals in our garden in May was in 2012 and that was a banner year for butterflies of many species.
In the above photo compare the Monarch to the Painted Lady. If you see a “small” Monarch, it may be a Painted Lady or a Red Admiral.
Don’t you love the colors of the third stage, or instar, of the Cecropia Moth caterpillar? Only about an inch and a half long in the photo, in the final fifth instar, before it pupates into a cocoon, the caterpillar will be as large as a large man’s thumb.
In its second instar in the above photo, the caterpillar resembles the developing birch flower catkins. This is an evolutionary form of mimicry against predation by birds. Cecropia Moth caterpillars eat not only the foliage of American White Birch trees, but also other species of birch trees, apple, ash, beech, elm, lilac, maple, poplar, Prunus and Ribes species, white oak, and willow.
First instar Cecropia Moth Caterpillars
Thank you so much again to my friend Christine for the gift of the Cecropia moth eggs.
Bluets, also known by the charming name Quaker Ladies
The first day of spring! It’s official although, with temperatures hovering in the twenties, its hard to believe. Close your eyes and imagine along with me pink and orange tulips, spring dresses, (stick with me here–just don’t look out your window at the still high drifts of snow) fields of bluets, sailboats in the harbor, windows open, the music of buzzing bees, shoots of new green grass, blue skies, robin bird songs, the smell of freshly tilled earth, fog horns in the distance, baby birds, misty warm April showers, the sweet scent of jonquils, bird’s nests along the meadow’s edge, the song of the Baltimore orioles returning, walking along the beach (without bundling up), friendly Red Admiral butterflies, lilacs, plum blossoms, magnolias in bloom, dogwoods in bloom, orange poppies, sweet pea tendrils, and sweet alyssum (see there, its not that hard).
Hurry Up Spring!
Tulips at The Mary Prentiss Inn
Cornus florida rubra
Blue Lilac ‘President Grevy’
Rosa rugosa and Bee
Lilacs flower in an array of beautiful hues
Male Black Swallowtail and Lilac ‘Wedgwood Blue’
This past autumn I wrote about a Black Swallowtail caterpillar that was discovered munching on the parley plants at Wolf Hill Garden Center in Gloucester. The caterpillar had left the parsley plant and wandered around the office at Wolf Hill, where it had pupated, or in other words, turned into a chrysalis, on the razor-thin edge of an envelope. By chance, I met Kate, who works at Wolf Hill, one afternoon at Eastern Point while I was filming Monarchs, where she and her friend were looking at the butterflies through binoculars. She asked if I would be interested in taking care of the chrysalis over the winter. I of course said I would be delighted to do so!
The butterfly chrysalis lived in a terrarium all winter. The terrarium was placed in an unheated entryway. I thought it best for the chrysalis to experience normal winter temperatures rather than live in a heated home where it might be fooled into thinking it was spring. In the early spring we brought the terrarium onto our unheated front porch where it would be exposed to daylight .
A stunning male Black Swallowtail emerged last week. Earlier that very day I had seen a female Black Swallowtail nectaring at azaleas at a farm in a neighboring town. See the original post on Good Morning Gloucester about Kate and the Wolf Hill caterpillar.
Black Swallowtail Chrysalis ~ Brown Form