A New Life

I went out to check on the Monarch chrysalis and could barely locate it.  The jade green was gone and a thin transparent shell was left.  A new life had taken flight.


Jade and Gold Chrysalis

The Monarch caterpillars have begun to make their chrysalises.  I found this one while cleaning out a garden bed. The chrysalis looked like a jade bead that a jeweler decorated with drops of gold.

The camera could not capture the gold color shimmering in the sun that my eye saw.  Nature can certainly be an inspiration for art.


Caterpillar Relocation

The Monarch caterpillars are doing so well that they ate all the leaves from some of the Butterfly Weed plants.  I gently collected these big fat ones for relocation.

The caterpillar got right to work munching on the new leaves.  Having too many Monarch caterpillars is definitely a good sign for the population.


A Spring Day

Today is a beautiful Spring day and some new flowers decided to open.  The Amaryllis that I got at a plant exchange put up two stalks and all four flowers opened at the same time.

This Iris was found in a mulch delivery many years ago.

These big bees are everywhere.  I haven’t been able to photograph them, but there are Robins singing in the trees.  They are probably refueling for their trip north.  The Ruby Throated Hummingbirds have arrived.

Happily, the next generation of Monarch butterflies are in the making.

I’ve had several Monarch butterflies floating around the garden.  This one seems a bit beat up.  Maybe it made the flight from Mexico.  Can you see the caterpillar on the leaf?

I hope you can find some beauty in your day.


Come On Down

On a trip to the northeast, I stayed at a place with lots of Milkweed.  First, the swallowtails came.

Next the Monarchs visited.

Soon the Monarch caterpillars began to eat through the plants.

Mirror munching.

What next? All that is left is a stringy vein of a leaf.

I can count about 10 caterpillars on this Milkweed.  All the caterpillars received the coordinates to visit the Automatic Garden  during their migration, where the Tropical Butterfly weed is waiting.

 


Caterpillar Rescue

I found this baby Monarch caterpillar in my laundry room on a clothes basket.  I have no idea how it got there.  I quickly snapped a photo with my phone and returned the baby to a Milkweed plant.


Come on Down

During a recent trip to the northeast part of the country, I came across these Monarch Caterpillars eating a Milkweed plant. I would guess that this would be the generation to go to Mexico and the butterflies’ route could very well pass through The Automatic Garden.

So, come on down and stay for a spell.  We are ready and waiting for the Monarchs.


Monarch Munching

Before the snow and the freeze, I took this shot of a Monarch Caterpillar munching away on this Butterfly Weed.

I was wondering if the caterpillar made it through the cold snap. I spotted a Monarch Butterfly flying around the plants yesterday and a smaller caterpillar feeding on the leaves.  I guess they can take a bit of cold.

 

 


Monarch Lunch

I collected these Monarch caterpillars, but not for my lunch.  I found them on some sick looking Butterfly Weed with few leaves and moved them to healthier plants so the babies could have their lunch.

This big and beautiful Monarch is probably from a previous batch of caterpillars I found a few weeks ago.


Finding a Place for Metamorphosis

I spotted this Monarch caterpillar crawling on a large clay pot.  It was far from the Butterfly Weed, so I thought I would keep an eye on it.

The caterpillar climbed up to the rim and attached itself.  Look closely for the nearly invisible thread.

For some reason that did not seem right, so the caterpillar dropped to the ground.

It crawled around for quite awhile and headed up a stick for a better view.

Finally, it settled for this plastic net that is protecting a plant. And yes, I did spend quite a long time watching this caterpillar crawl around.  It is their habit to leave the plant they feed on and form a chrysalis elsewhere and are usually hard to find.

And in no time the caterpillar was in its chrysalis.  Sadly, I missed the process and when I checked hours later, it was done.

About the time it should have hatched, a beautiful Monarch Butterfly was  hanging on a nearby brick wall drying its wings and the chrysalis was gone.

And the circle of life begins again with a female Monarch depositing her eggs. I like to think it was the same one that hatched, but there is no way to tell.  She checked out all the plants and made sure the eggs were laid only on Butterfly Weed.

Apparently other Monarchs had stopped by and on the same day, I found a tiny caterpillar barely a half of an inch long  starting on its journey.

This year has already started well for the butterfly population in my area and many more have been stopping by than in past few years.