Sunday, October 4, 2015

robed in royal orange

robed in royal ornage
a Monarch butterfly floats 
among star flowers 

The green, black and white striped caterpillar I saw a few weeks ago, in its final instar before going through the mysterious transformation inside a chrysalis, has emerged cloaked in wings of orange, black and white. Floating in a field of wild flowers, this fourth generation Monarch butterfly will soon begin the long journey to sunny California or Mexico. 

Sipping nectar with folded wings, a Monarch displays the beautiful black veins on the golden underside of the wings and the white spots on the black wing edges. Unbelievable that a  journey of over two thousand miles begins with such small sips.

True Monarchs, they are also drawn to the regal plumes of Goldenrod. I hope our wildflower field, surrounded by our neighbor's corn and soybean fields, continues to be a safe haven for these endangered insects. 
          What about next year's caterpillars? I saw almost no milkweed plants this year, traditionally the only food the caterpillars will eat. But I came across a site that shows caterpillars faring well on alternative food. Would you believe it, pumpkin slices and the skins of crisp cucumber! 
          Check it out:

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