an everyday photo, every day | photography • art • poetry

milkweed

Munching Monarchs

caterpillar-1

Monarch caterpillars on milkweed leaves.

Caterpillars, that is. I visited Fern Hollow Nature Center in Sewickley Heights to work on a painting of the scenery, and in my first trip around the upper trails spotted a monarch caterpillar on a partially-chewed milkweed leaf. I had actually never seen one, though I’ve read all about their habits and appetite for only the best milkweed leaves.

caterpillar-2

I’d never seen them up close before!

Each time I passed the caterpillar, I photographed it with a different lens, also marking its progress along the edge of the leaf it was chewing. It had apparently found a tender spot in the leaf and was methodically chewing along the edge in an arc, back and forth, as far as its head could stretch without moving the rest of its body.

caterpillar-3

Hello!

Monarch butterflies rely on milkweed for all stages of life. Females lay one egg at a time on the underside of a large leathery leaf near the top of the plant. As the caterpillars mature the eat their own shells, then start in on the leaf they were born on; as they grow they shed their skin, and often eat that as well. They’ll move around the plant chewing on leaves through four sheddings or “instars”, and after the fifth shedding they’ll attach themselves upside down under a leave and build their chrysalis. This becomes transparent over a period of two weeks when the adult emerges. This one is probably in its last stage before the big change.

caterpillar-4

Making a nice, neat edge.

For more information on monarch butterflies and butterflies in general, visit Butterflies and Moths of North America at http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/.

Earlier this summer I photographed a Great Spangled Fritillary on milkweed from along the Panhandle Trail near Oakdale, and i I’ve got several more photos of butterflies, mostly from my back yard as the visit the native plants.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


Migrating Monarchs

monarch on leaf
monarch on leaf

Monarch butterfly on mulberry leaf.

It is thought that butterflies represent the souls of loved ones who’ve departed.

This monarch was resting on a cool leaf as it traveled through the neighborhood. It only stopped to rest in several areas, though my yard is still fresh with phlox and echinacea, two of any butterfly’s favorite foods. Likely the monarch is looking for milkweed plants to lay its eggs as it travels south. (Last September I featured a few photos of Munching Monarchs, monarch caterpillars munching away on milkweed leaves, one of my favorite sets of photos.)

Butterflies and birds are all in migration now, and the ones you see at your feeders and in your yard are likely not the ones you saw all summer. The same species of birds move farther south from their summer ranges, from Canada to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S., for instance, or from Pennsylvania to Florida, making it seem as if the same birds visit your feeders all year long.

And now is an especially important time to keep feeders and birdbaths filled for birds and butterflies who need to make a quick stop for nourishment before they move on. I have a few decorative additions to my garden and birdbaths for butterflies that hold a small amount of water in a shallow cup, a small luncheon plate on a tree stump that holds a small amount of water and I also keep a flat rock in the middle of a birdbath, all safe and convenient landing spots for butterflies to stop and have a sip.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


Munching Monarchs, 2009

caterpillar-1

Monarch caterpillars on milkweed leaves.

Caterpillars, that is. I visited Fern Hollow Nature Center in Sewickley Heights to work on a painting of the scenery, and in my first trip around the upper trails spotted a monarch caterpillar on a partially-chewed milkweed leaf. I had actually never seen one, though I’ve read all about their habits and appetite for only the best milkweed leaves.

caterpillar-2

I’d never seen them up close before!

Each time I passed the caterpillar, I photographed it with a different lens, also marking its progress along the edge of the leaf it was chewing. It had apparently found a tender spot in the leaf and was methodically chewing along the edge in an arc, back and forth, as far as its head could stretch without moving the rest of its body.

caterpillar-3

Hello!

Monarch butterflies rely on milkweed for all stages of life. Females lay one egg at a time on the underside of a large leathery leaf near the top of the plant. As the caterpillars mature the eat their own shells, then start in on the leaf they were born on; as they grow they shed their skin, and often eat that as well. They’ll move around the plant chewing on leaves through four sheddings or “instars”, and after the fifth shedding they’ll attach themselves upside down under a leave and build their chrysalis. This becomes transparent over a period of two weeks when the adult emerges. This one is probably in its last stage before the big change.

caterpillar-4

Making a nice, neat edge.

For more information on monarch butterflies and butterflies in general, visit Butterflies and Moths of North America at http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/.

Earlier this summer I photographed a Great Spangled Fritillary on milkweed from along the Panhandle Trail near Oakdale, and in my online photo gallery I’ve got several more photos of butterflies, mostly from my back yard as the visit the native plants.


Migrating Monarchs, 2010

monarch on leaf
monarch on leaf

Monarch butterfly on mulberry leaf.

This monarch was resting on a cool leaf as it traveled through the neighborhood. It only stopped to rest in several areas, though my yard is still fresh with phlox and echinacea, two of any butterfly’s favorite foods. Likely the monarch is looking for milkweed plants to lay its eggs as it travels south. (Last September I featured a few photos of Munching Monarchs, monarch caterpillars munching away on milkweed leaves, one of my favorite sets of photos.)

Butterflies and birds are all in migration now, and the ones you see at your feeders and in your yard are likely not the ones you saw all summer. The same species of birds move farther south from their summer ranges, from Canada to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S., for instance, or from Pennsylvania to Florida, making it seem as if the same birds visit your feeders all year long.

And now is an especially important time to keep feeders and birdbaths filled for birds and butterflies who need to make a quick stop for nourishment before they move on. I have a few decorative additions to my garden and birdbaths for butterflies that hold a small amount of water in a shallow cup, a small luncheon plate on a tree stump that holds a small amount of water and I also keep a flat rock in the middle of a birdbath, all safe and convenient landing spots for butterflies to stop and have a sip.


Migrating Monarchs

monarch on leaf

Monarch butterfly on mulberry leaf.

This monarch was resting on a cool leaf as it traveled through the neighborhood. It only stopped to rest in several areas, though my yard is still fresh with phlox and echinacea, two of any butterfly’s favorite foods. Likely the monarch is looking for milkweed plants to lay its eggs as it travels south. (Last September I featured a few photos of Munching Monarchs, monarch caterpillars munching away on milkweed leaves, one of my favorite sets of photos.)

Butterflies and birds are all in migration now, and the ones you see at your feeders and in your yard are likely not the ones you saw all summer. The same species of birds move farther south from their summer ranges, from Canada to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S., for instance, or from Pennsylvania to Florida, making it seem as if the same birds visit your feeders all year long.

And now is an especially important time to keep feeders and birdbaths filled for birds and butterflies who need to make a quick stop for nourishment before they move on. I have a few decorative additions to my garden and birdbaths for butterflies that hold a small amount of water in a shallow cup, a small luncheon plate on a tree stump that holds a small amount of water and I also keep a flat rock in the middle of a birdbath, all safe and convenient landing spots for butterflies to stop and have a sip.


Munching Monarchs

caterpillar-1

Caterpillars, that is. I visited Fern Hollow Nature Center in Sewickley Heights to work on a painting of the scenery, and in my first trip around the upper trails spotted a monarch caterpillar on a partially-chewed milkweed leaf. I had actually never seen one, though I’ve read all about their habits and appetite for only the best milkweed leaves.

caterpillar-2

Each time I passed the caterpillar, I photographed it with a different lens, also marking its progress along the edge of the leaf it was chewing. It had apparently found a tender spot in the leaf and was methodically chewing along the edge in an arc, back and forth, as far as its head could stretch without moving the rest of its body.

caterpillar-3

Monarch butterflies rely on milkweed for all stages of life. Females lay one egg at a time on the underside of a large leathery leaf near the top of the plant. As the caterpillars mature the eat their own shells, then start in on the leaf they were born on; as they grow they shed their skin, and often eat that as well. They’ll move around the plant chewing on leaves through four sheddings or “instars”, and after the fifth shedding they’ll attach themselves upside down under a leave and build their chrysalis. This becomes transparent over a period of two weeks when the adult emerges. This one is probably in its last stage before the big change.

caterpillar-4

For more information on monarch butterflies and butterflies in general, visit Butterflies and Moths of North America at http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/.

Earlier this summer I photographed a Great Spangled Fritillary on milkweed from along the Panhandle Trail near Oakdale, and in my online photo gallery I’ve got several more photos of butterflies, mostly from my back yard as the visit the native plants.


Great Spangled Fritillaries!

Great Spangled Fritillary on Milkweed

Great Spangled Fritillary on Milkweed

June Wildflowers Along the Panhandle Trail

Where May was nearly all green and white with touches of yellow or burgundy, June welcomes the brilliant white, yellow, pink and blue as the flowers compete for attention from their pollinators.

As I did in May with the Panhandle Nature Walk, I photographed the wildflowers I encountered in sequence along the Panhandle Trail. I peddled out to McDonald, spotting the best areas to photograph, and rolled my bicycle back from McDonald to Walker’s Mill, photographing all the way. These shots are the best, when the sun was shining and the wind was fairly still. I’ll be featuring a highlight every day for the next few days—another butterfly, stunning individual flowers, collections and berries.

Also visit my Today gallery on my website to see other featured images and find links to other galleries. These images and more are available as prints and notecards.