Saturday, August 28, 2010

Afternoon hike

Yesterday we took a small hike down to road to see if there were any remaining monarch caterpillars on the milkweed patch. i noticed earlier this week that the milkweed in that area is beginning to yellow and die back.

i was surprised to find a blooming butterfly weed. We saw a lot of this earlier in the summer, but most of it has already gone to seed this time of year. This is a little Pearl Crescent hanging out enjoying the sweet nectar.
Orange butterfly weed is a favorite for many butterflies. We have it growing in our butterfly garden, and it attracts a large variety of butterflies.

We also came upon this little Red spotted Newt, also called a red eft. The Eastern newts go through 3 stages. They begin as an aquatic larva, similar to a tadpole. Then during their juvenile stage, they leave the water and become a land-dweller. The eft may travel far across land, looking for a new place to live. After two or three years, the eft finds a suitable pond and transforms into the aquatic adult.
We find these guys quite often during our hikes. They are very easy to spot and very slow moving. The kids love to pick them up and carry them around.

We found this guy hanging out on some Black locust near the Milkweed. This unusual looking caterpillar is the larva of the Silver Spotted Skipper. It's interesting that such a large caterpillar would turn into such a small butterfly. These guys hide during the day in leaf tents they build by joining leaves together with silk. The feed mostly at night. They overwinter in their chrysalis and emerge in the spring.

We made it to the milkweed patch, and found only this one monarch caterpillar and a bunch of milkweed bugs. He was already in his final instar, so we went ahead and brought him home. Last night he hung upside down in a "J" and we expect him to form a chrysalis sometime this morning.
Two of our chrysalis turned transparent overnight. We can clearly see the monarch butterflies inside. So we expect them to be emerging this morning as well and we'll be able to release them this afternoon.

i love these afternoon hikes. There is always something new to explore, or a new bug or flower to identify. Nature makes such a fabulous classroom.


Post a Comment