Wednesday, September 7, 2022

MONARCH CATERPILLAR AND BUTTERFLY

And in the end it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years."

~Abraham Lincoln~


Added note

I made a discovery just now, after I had already written my post and published it.  I learned that the caterpillars in my photos were actually ones that would turn into a Black Swallowtail Butterfly.  They are very similar but this site will show the difference.  To repeat myself, the caterpillar shown here will not turn into the Monarch Butterfly, as I had first thought, but will reveal itself as a Black Swallowtail.  All the information I have written, however, is still for the Monarch caterpillar and that is very interesting.   I decided not to rewrite my post but have added more to explain.  My signature logo at the end shows the Monarch Caterpillar, and the first clue is its tentacles.  Another realization was that at a glance they seem similar but if you keep looking, the differences show themselves quite clearly.   Here is another link.  Sorry about my confusion but I am actually happy I made the mistake as I learned another fascinating lesson in nature. 

The Monarch caterpillars are partial to the milkweed plant.  Milkweed contains a bitter chemical known as an alkaloid that keeps most insects from eating it, but which Monarch caterpillars just love.  Consequently, Monarch caterpillars and adult butterflies contain the same alkaloid, and this is great for them because other predictors, most of them anyway, will find them too bitter to eat.  This explains why Monarch caterpillars, instead of being camouflaged, are boldly marked.  Even with their brightly colored 'coat', it announces to all would-be diners you can't eat me, I'm dangerous and I taste horrible.
This is a Monarch Butterfly.
Unfortunately, and as you may know already, the Monarch is now on the endangered species list.  If you click on this link it tells us what we can do to help, like plant milkweed and other flowers that bloom in every season for instance.

Regarding the milkweed plant, Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country Reflections, made a very important point in her comment today.  "To be clear, monarch require milkweed on which to lay their eggs. It's not a preference. They feed off many plants, however, on their way home."  Thank you Jenn!  I found more about this here.

The Nature Conservancy website gives a lot of useful information and this site (with beautiful illustrations) will teach us how to create a pollinator paradise.  






38 comments:

  1. No, I did not know they are on the endangered list! I do know that bright orange and yellow on a critter is a warning that they are poisonousness.

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    1. That's interesting Ginny, thank you for that info :)

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  2. I had no idea that monarch butterflies are on the endangered species list.

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    1. Hi Ann :) It's only been from June-July of this year I believe.

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  3. Far too many things are endangered. It makes my head and my heart hurt.

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    1. Isn't that the truth Sue? I feel the same way. We want our future generations to experience the same joy these small creatures gave to us.

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  4. Hello,
    Lovely shots of the caterpillar and the Monarch! The milkweed is a very important plant for the Monarchs. Take care, enjoy your day!

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    1. Fico feliz que tenha gostado das minhas fotos. Obrigado e um abraço e continuação de boa semana.

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  6. Yes, I read somewhere about the monarch being endangered. Your photos are awesome Denise, as always.

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    1. Thank you for your sweet comment Anni :), and gosh, I hope we can do something about this but there is always so little time :( I read an interesting article a while back, that said 'first the animals, and then us". Foreboding!

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    2. The chain of events you mention makes sense.

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    3. Thanks Anni :) Living in hope here.

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  7. Gąsienice nie są tak piękne jak motyle . Niestety wiele motyli jest zagrożonych wyginięciem. Może to dziwne ale mi podoba się ta gąsienica 🙂 Miłego weekendu🙂

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    1. Dziękuję i nie, nic dziwnego :) Ja też lubię gąsienice i zawsze mnie fascynowały. Życzę dobrej reszty tygodnia.

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  8. Replies
    1. Thank you Christine, I have always been on a learning curve as far as most things are concerned, and nature is one of them. I also love those 'ah-hah' moments :)

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  9. Our groundhog keeps eating one particular milkweed plant!
    To be clear, monarch require milkweed on which to lay their eggs. It's not a preference. They feed off many plants, however, on their way home.
    We've had a few swallowtails here, and a few monarch. It wasn't a great butterfly season.

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    1. I love groundhogs, cute little things and following his survival instincts to eat anything that's tasty :) Thank you for that extra important information Jenn, I have added your comment to my post. I haven't seen as many butterflies this year as I normally do. Hopefully next year will see some improvement for all of us.

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  10. to me caterpillars are most amazing! we once watched one go through the whole process of making a butterfly in our back yard.

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    1. How wonderful Sandra :) I would love to see that and am thinking of getting a butterfly kit to enjoy the process.

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    1. Thank you Carol and I totally agree about those Swallowtails :)

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  12. Replies
    1. Learning something new every day. It's a process :) Thank you Yogi!

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  13. Such delicate creature and thanks for the knowledge you have written.

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    1. They certainly are, very delicate. You are very welcome Margaret, happy you enjoyed my post :)

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  14. Interesting. I’m going to plant some milkweed seed soon to see if it comes up in the spring.

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  15. There is always so much to learn. Beautiful butterfly.

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    1. Always learning aren't we Ellen? :) Counting my blessings every day for all the learning experiences.

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