Do you still have nectar?

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!

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?!

The Monarch emerged!

This morning we happened by those Passion Flower plants again and look what we saw!

Monarch chrysalis about to emerge

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.

newly emerged Monarch butterfly female.

She hung there while her wings expanded. Look at the fluid that dripped off of her.

Fluid from newly emerged monarch

Another time we ran by, she had moved into the open and was spreading her wings.

female Monarch butterfly

That’s how we knew this was a girl–no spots on her hind wings.

female-monarch-butterfly_2

It’s a great feeling to see one be able to succeed at making it to the butterfly stage!

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Mystery #158

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.

Monarch female 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!

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,

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!