Friday, May 16, 2008

Monarchs

On April 25th, we were walking around behind our building at Southeastway Park and noticed a lone Monarch Butterfly flying low near the dirt in our garden area. Soon we discovered what she was up to. She was ovipositing, laying eggs, on some of the small Common Milkweed plants that were just emerging from the soil.
Above is a shot of the monarch with her abdomen curled forward. Next to her is a small stub of a just emerging milkweed. She can "taste" the milkweed with their feet and can tell when she is on the correct plant.



A few weeks later, on May 12th I took this shot of the caterpillars. Tiny little guys just munching away. Monarch caterpillars and butterflies use milkweeds as host plants to insure their survival.

The milkweed has chemicals called cardiac glycosides. When the caterpillar ingests the leaves, the glycosides make it toxic to other animals. If a bird eats a monarch caterpillar or butterfly, it will not eat another, for it will become very ill. The warning colors or yellow and black on the caterpillar and orange and black on the butterfly alert birds of their possible bad taste and toxicity, so they usually will avoid them.



Just a few days later on May 16th, they have obviously grown quite a bit. I will post again next week to show how these little ones are doing. We are very excited about our new family!
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1 comment:

hiramtom said...

Janet- Cool, I didn't realize that the monarchs were out yet. Very nice day at Shawnee today, wasn't it? I always love that place, I need to get there more often. I'll post some shots tomorrow...didn't get the greatest pictures but some were OK!

Tom