Friday, August 20, 2010

Monarchs in all Forms

Related Post: The Monarchs are Back

For the last two weeks, we've had the Monarch Butterfly in three different forms in our yard.

There are several adult butterflies that are ecstatic about the Liatris ligulistylis ~ Meadow Blazingstar flowering. It is by far their favorite plant to nectar upon. We have counted up to 18 Monarchs at one time nectaring on this Blazingstar.

My husband jokes that he has to fight his way up our walkway through the monarchs this time of year. They also like the Eupatorium purpurem ~ Joe Pye Weed for nectaring.

We have seen several monarch caterpillars throughout the summer on our various Asclepias ~ Milkweed species. By far, most are found on the Swamp Milkweed ~ Asclepias incarnata.

We used to have a significant amount of Swamp Milkweed but due to the drought in the previous 5 years, the only plants that remain are in our raingarden by the driveway.

Considering how many caterpillars we find in the yard, we rarely see the chrysalises. I spotted the first one last week hanging from the top sill of our bathroom window. This is on the north side of our house, the same place where we found a chrysalis last year on the siding.

I find the gold coloring on the green chrysalis amazing. How on earth does a caterpillar manage to create a cocoon like that?

The origin of the word chrysalis is from Greek khrusallis, from khrusos 'gold' because of the gold or metallic coloring in many butterfly chrysalises.