The First Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar I’ve Seen This Season…

I have today off.  Just taking a “personal day” because I want one.  I slept in a tiny bit and didn’t get up until around 6:30. Had some coffee, read my emails, saw my brother Marty off to work, and then went over to the WPA Rock Garden with the dog for our walk. We got to see a lot of praying mantises, bug eggs and tiny nymphs, and spiders among the flowers… Spotted some hummingbirds around the blossoms of a century cactus, and got scolded by a squirrel when we got to close to where he was eating in the branches of a redbud tree.  There was a big pond turtle, lots of crayfish and little fry along the edges of the duck pond.  And I also saw my first Monarch butterfly of the season (they usually come through in September), and the first tiny Monarch caterpillar!  I’ll have to go back there is a day or two to see if it’s a lone one or if there are others in the same area (on the leaves of a Showy Milkweed plant).  I couldn’t get a photo of the butterfly because she wouldn’t sit still long enough.  Some of the bug eggs we found were those of the Lacewings; tiny white Tic-Tacs on top of hair-like filaments.  They’d been laid on the leaves of a cockscomb plant right near bunches of aphids.  “…Lacewing larvae are cannibalistic, so females lay their eggs at the end of filaments the size of human hairs, keeping them out of reach of one another when they hatch… Green lacewing larvae, also known as ‘aphid lions’, possess excellent searching qualities, exhibit high dispersal ability, and are particularly active against aphid pests…” How cool is that?

And here are a couple of very short videos:

The praying mantis poses for photos.

We get scolded by the squirrel.