Thursday, July 31, 2014

Monarch Butterfly

My flower garden is a mess.  It is full of unruly perennials.  Most of them are left to come up wherever they want.  I don't manicure this garden at all.  It's main purpose is to support the butterflies and bees.  Both Monarch butterflies and bee populations are on the decline.  It is working.  Although I am just a little helper, I hope it will help in a small way.  I just saw a Monarch caterpillar chewing on the wild butterfly bush.  It is a really pretty caterpillar.

These beautiful creatures go through 4 stages during their life cycle.  The butterfly lays many eggs usually on the milkweed plant, the egg hatches into a caterpillar, the caterpillar spins a cocoon which turns into a butterfly.   This process is quick.  The metamorphosis from egg to adult only takes 30 days.  The butterflies live just a few weeks.  The very last generation in the fall has the job of migrating thousands of miles.  This generation lives longer.  They live long enough to spend the winter in the warm climates and migrate back to start the reproduction process all over again.

There is another black and orange butterfly called the Viceroy butterfly.  It is smaller but looks very much like the Monarch.  It is easy to confuse the two. 

I have seen a few other interesting butterflies this summer.  Here are a few photos.  

Red spotted purple admiral.  This one is a little damaged but still pretty.

Tiger Swallowtail butterfly

We get a lot of these.  The Great Spangled Fritillary

Messy flower garden full of milkweed and bee balm.

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