Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Look, Up In The Sky ...

... and you might see something like this.

The view from the parking lot as I left my office this evening.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


About those caterpillars ...

Five have disappeared. Two have formed chrysalises.  And in ten or so days we'll have ...

Sunday, September 7, 2014


The monarch butterfly is an amazing creature. This insect migrates from Canada and the United States to Mexico, overwinters, and then migrates back again. But the insects that migrate to Mexico have never been there. In fact, it is the great-great-great grandchildren that somehow know the way to the specific groves in the mountain forests of Mexico.

But the Monarch, like many creatures on earth these days, is in serious decline. Over the past twenty years monarch populations have fallen by 90% (source). There are three main threats to the survival of the butterfly. Habitat loss, which is a problem for many species in distress. Herbicides, such as the popular Roundup, which kills the milkweed plants on which the monarch depends, and recently severe winters, which would not have been such a problem had the population been healthy.

That's why we were so happy to find these in the garden this morning.

Monarch caterpillars.

On our butterfly weed.

We found seven fairly large caterpillars on the plant (you can see three in the image above).

Here's a better look at the one on the left in the three-for image above.

We have only two butterfly weed plants and only one has caterpillars. And the plant does not appear to have been badly eaten, which one would expect with this many large munchers on it.

And we have no other milkweed on our property (it was already on the list for next year, as we plan our butterfly garden). A friend who volunteers at a local nature center is bringing us some, so these guys won't go hungry.

It is a mystery as to where these guys came from and what they have been eating to grow this large. Monarchs are very particular as to food plants. And as I noted, we have no other suitable plants for them.

Regardless of where they came from we are happy they are here. We'll do our best to see that they leave our property as butterflies, on their way to Mexico.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014

Life Too ...

It's not all death out there in our yard.

Sometimes it is life. New life.

When we were first touring the property the previous owners pointed out an eastern phoebe nest, ...

... above the light fixture on our shed.

After we bought the place I climbed up a ladder and took four shots. I didn't want to spend too much time up there, as mom (seen just below and right of center in the image below, click to bigafy) was none too happy about me being there.

As far was we know all four chicks fledged. We went away for a few weeks and when we got back the nest was empty. For awhile we saw young phoebes about the yard, but they've all gone now. Hopefully they'll return next year, and we can watch the young from hatchling to fledgeling.