On Friday morning, I was checking the marsh milkweed with my binoculars and finally saw a large Monarch caterpillar! I found 11 in the patch by the pond, both large and small. Elation!!
The 12th was another large one, and it was crawling off to find a place to pupate in the garden. I left to have lunch with my friend, Lynne, so happy to finally have seen some caterpillars.
On my return, I went back outside again to photograph for awhile. The butterflies were very active and I confirmed that there were four adults.
The males were really exhibiting some territorial behavior. "My patch!" They were constantly upending each other.
Then, something unexpected happened. A bird was shaking one of the marsh milkweed plants. It was a male Northern Cardinal. He did it again, which dislodged a couple of the smallest caterpillars from the undersides of the leaves. The bird quickly scooped them up and devoured them. Despair!!
I have read that adult butterflies are lost to birds in the wintering grounds, but apparently, not much is known about what birds might eat the larvae. My friend, Chris, told me that very evening that she had also seen a Cardinal take a large Monarch caterpillar. Anyone else? Please comment.
Today, SIX adult butterflies were here.
At least one female was laying eggs. She was very quick and this was the best photo I managed to get.
The Blue Sage began to open today and a Silver-spotted Skipper found it right away.
The young hummingbirds have been very active, too. It's good to have some sunny summer days.