Tag Archives: Monarch butterflies

No caterpillars, no computer, no butterflies, no earrings; just Swans!

My faithful five-year old laptop decided to have a tantrum last week, followed by a meltdown. Ditto for me when it happened. I am hapless and brainless without my technology. My son kindly agreed to lend me his laptop until mine is repaired ( hopefully it  is repairable ). It is  wonderful to have a laptop again but my son’s is so  much newer than mine that I hardly know what to do with it. It makes me feel as though I am back in school struggling with long division.

However, in the spirit of having a go, here is my first attempt at a post from a strange (to me) laptop.

The caterpillars on my swan plants are no more. They are all in their cocoon stage. One of the cocoons looks almost ready to be a butterfly  The others are still cogitating and storing up memories. The swan plants are putting out new leaves and, at the same time, they are producing the swans that give them their name.

Here are the swans; not sure if they get any more swan like  when the seed balloons open. Apparently the seeds have silky tufts.Little green swan

Closer swanSwan

The swans and the cocoons make me think of pretty earrings which is, perhaps, why I almost bought a pair of pearl drop earrings this afternoon.  Almost; they weren’t very expensive, for pearl earrings, but I thought, “No, that money will pay for a laptop assessment. Restrain your impulse shopping!” So, I came home, minus new earrings, to write this post.

All done; time for dinner 🙂

© silkannthreades

My new lodger

Yesterday’s adventurous lone long ranger, the monarch caterpillar, is now my new lodger. It is settled in to its cocoon and is safely attached to the brick work at my front door.  It is in an ideal position for me to keep an eye on it. Thank you, little critter, for choosing my home for your confinement.Getting settledIn my corner

Footnote: I must remember to put a DO NOT DISTURB sign next to my lodger before the window cleaner comes tomorrow.

© silkannthreades

Lone long ranger

Yesterday I read a fascinating post on the theme of Wanderlust in far off South America. (http://playamart.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/the-wanderlust-breed/ ) Little did I expect that, this morning, I would witness something very like Wanderlust at my own front door.

Here it is; a solitary monarch caterpillar climbing up the brick facade of the house.Onward and upward

What possessed this little creature  to travel at least 15 metres from the other caterpillars and cocoons. Why was it not happy to stay near the others and the security of the swan plants and other vegetation? Does moving to the hot bricks of my front door, give it a competitive advantage? Or is it just an insatiably curious caterpillar full of wanderlust and the spirit of adventure?  Who are you?How far will I wander?Tomorrow I will see if there is a cocoon decorating my bricks, or if the caterpillar has continued its wandering lone, long ranger journey.

© silkannthreades

Royal Process

There was much excitement ( for me!) in the royal nursery, yesterday. The first caterpillar successfully negotiated its way to adolescence. I noticed in the morning that one of the caterpillars looked as though it was ready to make a cocoon. I checked again about 2 in the afternoon but nothing had changed. I checked again about 3 hours later and the job was done. I am slightly miffed that I missed the chrysalis process. I need to watch more diligently when I see the next caterpillar preparing for its metamorphosis.Chrysalis

© silkannthreades

Let the feasting begin

This morning, I noticed two tiny monarch caterpillars on the swan plants outside our bedroom window.  Here is one of them magnified.Royal offspring

By evening, the caterpillar population had increased to 8; at least that’s how many I could see in the dusk. If the numbers keep increasing at today’s rate, I may have a caterpillar famine on my hands before the end of the week. I hope not. I am hoping, instead, that mother monarch  has laid the exact number of eggs for the exact amount of food provided by two swan plants. What are the odds of a monarch mother doing that kind of calculation. Probably rather good, because I find it completely amazing that, amongst all the vast foliage of my garden and neighbourhood gardens, she found my two small, swan plants. I saw her come three times. The first two visits were reconnaissance, I am sure. There was no messing about.She flew straight to the plants,  from the direction of the street. When I saw her the third time, she was laying eggs. No Google Maps for this lady; she knew exactly where she was going.  So, if she can identify plants so accurately, and select a laying site so carefully, surely she knows the ratio of eggs to plants to optimise offspring survival. Time will tell.

In the meantime, I have been honing my own version of monarch butterfly life skills, by sourcing more free food.  Today, I came upon two different plum trees, side by side, with their fruit laden branches conveniently hanging over a parking lot fence. One of the plums is a small yellow fleshed variety and the other is a delicious red skinned, red fleshed plum . I love red plums with their crunchy outer skin and firm, tart interiors. I picked a big bowl full. The problem now is that, as I am the only plum  lover in the house,  I need more mouths to eat the fruit. I wonder if the caterpillars would care for some plum when the main course of swan is finished?Plums galore

Full of plums

The colours of plumsColours plum and blue

Footnote: I wrote this post yesterday but WordPress was being angry and wouldn’t let me insert my photos,so I couldn’t publish. I haven’t counted the caterpillars this morning but I did see a monarch butterfly hovering around the plants. I wonder if it is the same mother returning to check on the progress of her offspring?

© silkannthreades