On a leaf

The Common Milkweed plants are mature, and the Monarchs are finding them. But have you noticed that these native wildflowers attract tons of bugs? A few years ago we showed many of them, and here are three from our recent visit.

A Carolina Mantis on milkweed leaf–an immature one, his wings are just forming.

Milkweed Leaf Beetle

Pearl Crescent

And here’s that Milkweed Community post in case you’d like to see more!

Advertisements

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Any idea what kind of butterfly this is? And…notice anything unusual about it?

Let me know in the comments, and I’ll be back later to check your guesses!

~~~

Well, we have shy readers today, or…? No responses and we thought this was one of our easier mysteries. But hey, we’re all busy in real life today!

This Monarch butterfly has positioned it abdomen to…

lay an egg!

The plant is Common Milkweed, a favorite food of the Monarch caterpillar. Butterflies always lay eggs on the particular plant that its caterpillar eats, so if you really wish to attract butterflies to your yard, you need to have both the nectar flowers they like and the preferred caterpillar foods.

So, we had good question come into the blog today that relates to butterflies. However, it was posted as a comment on an unrelated post from a few years ago–we assume the human reader was going back through our archives and reading more about nature–yay! This question was a bit embarrassing for Nutmeg, but she answered it honestly and we decided the fate of it being posted today meant that we should share it with all our readers, rather than let it get buried in the archives.

Mike asked:

Do squirrels search out and eat butterfly chrysilis’?
I could have sworn one of my bandits went into my pondside blackeyed susan yesterday and emerged with a bright green chrysilis he then proceeded to chow down on!
I am willing to share my tomatoes but NOT my butterflies!

And Nutmeg answered:

Em, yes we–er, they do. We are quite opportunistic in our food choices and insects are a favorite. Especially the juicy ones. Thanks for writing in with your observation, Mike, despite how much it embarrasses us.
Nutmeg

Seeing as we are squirrels and have done our best to promote humans helping wildlife, this was hard to admit. But who better to ask about squirrel habits than a group of squirrels?!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Here’s a tiny mystery for you!

Mystery #157

What are these dots on the leaf? And for a bonus, what is the plant?

Check in with you later for your guesses!

~~~

Too tiny to make out? How about this one?

Monarch eggs on Common Milkweed

Or this one?

Monarch egg cluster

These are Monarch butterfly eggs! The female Monarch always lays them on a species of milkweed. This is the Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. In six days the teeny caterpillar will hatch.

Monarch caterpillar newly hatched, 6 days after egg laid

As it eats the milkweed leaves, it grows–this one about a week old.

Monarch caterpillar a week old How much they eat determines how fast they grow, and then how long it takes them to form a chrysalis. This caterpillar is ready.

Monarch caterpillar ready to turn to a chrysalis

Monarch Chrysalis

The butterfly emerges in 10-14 days, ready to start the process all over again!

Monarch butterfly

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Mystery #154

There are two things in today’s mystery to guess:

What insect is this?

What flower is it feeding on?

Give me your guesses and I’ll check back later with your answers!

~~~

We had a correct guess on the flower–this is a Common Milkweed. The ‘butterfly’ is a skipper, the Silver-spotted Skipper. He wasn’t quite in the right position for you humans to see his thicker ends of the antenna that identify him as a skipper.

The underside of the wings, as shown above, have the silver spot that can usually be detected from a distance. However, if the skipper is sitting with the wings spread and the upper side is visible, that silver spot disappears.

Silver-spotted Skipper

Well, it’s hidden. Sorry, you have to learn two patterns if you are trying to identify this skipper, but it’s not too unusual for butterflies to have different coloring on the top and undersides.

We squirrels learned a fun fact about the Silver-spotted Skipper while looking it up: They almost never visit yellow flowers! Pink, like this milkweed are a favorite, as well as other pink, red, purple and blue flowers like thistle, red clover and blazing star.

Check out the website Butterflies and Moths of North America, if you’d like to learn more!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Here’s a close up of part of a native plant.

Mystery # 142

That’s the only hint I’m giving for this week’s mystery!

See you later!

~~~

Does this help any?

Common Milkweed Pod

Or this?

Common Milkweed seeds

Our close up is the seeds of a Common Milkweed, lined up in their pod before the wind and weather have lifted them by the fluff and blown them to a new growing location.

Common Milkweed growing on Reston National Golf Course

Monarch butterflies and other insects are lucky enough to have stands of milkweed on the Reston National Golf Course and many other open space meadows in Reston.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there,

It’s time for something teeny!

Mystery #127

If you know what it might be, give us a shout in the comments!

~~~

Oops, apparently we squirrels are making the most of all our daylight hours this weekend. Sorry we’re running late. We had a very close guess today. These are butterfly eggs. That leaf would give you a surefire clue, if it weren’t magnified so much. (There’s a hint-these are tiny!)

It’s a milkweed leaf…so these are Monarch eggs!

Monarch butterfly laying eggsThey have been fluttering around the milkweeds, and fueling up on zinnia nectar.

Monarch butterfly on zinnia

Hopefully we’ll have some caterpillars to show you soon!

One Of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey There!

Long time no see! We are on our winter break, but because Northern Virginia has seen little snow so far, I want to poke this in for a substitute.

Mystery #110

What is it?

Give me your guesses and I’ll check back later.

~~~

I don’t suppose this one is too much of a mystery since we featured Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, several times this summer. See the posts here and here. These are the seeds, now escaping from their pods, dry and fluffing out.

Common Milkweed Seedpod

It’s just such a great native plant!

Common Milkweed

This stand of the wildflowers gone to seed was along a suburban street near us–lots of sun and in a place humans can easily see it. Street flowers.

street flowers

Hope your fall to winter transition is going well!