The monarchs are migrating. We know it’s been terribly dry, so if you still have blooms in your yard, please water them for the end-of-season insects!
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.
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.
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?!
This morning we happened by those Passion Flower plants again and look what we saw!
The Monarch was close to emerging. We got a few acorns hunted down and by the time we came back, the butterfly had broken out of her chrysalis.
She hung there while her wings expanded. Look at the fluid that dripped off of her.
Another time we ran by, she had moved into the open and was spreading her wings.
That’s how we knew this was a girl–no spots on her hind wings.
It’s a great feeling to see one be able to succeed at making it to the butterfly stage!
Maybe you know what kind of butterfly it is, but is it a male or a female, and how can you tell?
I’ll check back later for your guesses!
We had correct guesses today! I’m chasing my tail in excitement that so many of you humans leaped in to guess!
Yes, this is a Monarch butterfly, and it’s a…male. The thin veins and the two black spots on the hind wing identify it as a male. Those black spots are scent-producing organs. They are actually tiny pouches, containing scent scales or ‘androconia’, the term entomologists use meaning ‘male dust’. It’s where they produce their pheromones to attract the females.
For comparison, here’s a female Monarch laying eggs.
Her hind wings have wider bands of black scales. But here’s the tricky part–you can see the veins on either side of the hind wings, but the scent pouches on the male are only visible from the top of the wings!
So good luck identifying your Monarchs, you quick-eyed humans!
Here’s a tiny mystery for you!
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?
Or this one?
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.
As it eats the milkweed leaves, it grows–this one about a week old.
The butterfly emerges in 10-14 days, ready to start the process all over again!
It’s time for something teeny!
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!
Hopefully we’ll have some caterpillars to show you soon!