Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Garden Treasure, Part II

This morning I prepared myself and headed into the garden to search again for lost treasure.  This time I was not alone.  Although Ed and I could only occasionally get a glimpse of each other because of the lush growth, we could hear each other working and it was nice to be out there together!   I found weeding the stone path tough going, but when I got working on the bed with the sunflowers everything was great.  I moved to the west side of the bed and was working in partial shade until I pulled the tall grass complete with  its nasty seed heads. When it was gone I was back in the bright sun.   I spent some time watching the bees on the sunflowers. There was a lot of activity and the bee's knees were fat and yellow with sunflower pollen. The air was filled with the pleasant scent of the spearmint that got crushed when my garden cart ran over it in the path.  I had to cut off some milkweed that already had seed pods and yellowing leaves to free a wire cage in the garden bed.    Suddenly another garden treasure was within my sight. I could see my parsley plants just a few feet away.   Having found my parsley, I was sure I could rescue it from the weeds, but something far more rare and wonderful than parsley caught my eye!

There right next to my Italian and  curly-leaf parsley was a nice new milkweed plant.  Something had been eating the leaves.  I was filled with the excitement of discovery and when I checked under the leaves, I found the treasure I was hoping for.  It was a yellow, black and white striped caterpillar, a Monarch!

Our first Monarch caterpillar of 2016 was happily munching away.  I left the red milkweed beetle there even though he also eats the milkweed leaf.  This caterpillar has already been through several molts and is big enough to take care of himself.   Needless to say all weeding disturbance in this area will stop for now.  The parsley will just have to deal with it!

Nearby under my butterfly bush I discovered what remained of a well traveled Monarch butterfly.  What you see is the under side of an upper wing.  The colored scales are on the other side.  Many scales were missing or damaged.  From the thinner black  markings it appears that this butterfly was a male.  We are so glad he made it!  Ed mows the meadow to make sure that there are are lots of nice green  milkweed plants here.  We hope this caterpillar is just the first of many!

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