After posting about the queen caterpillars on our rush milkweeds last week, this week I came across another scene.
Yes, there's a butterfly and a caterpillar. Do you see what is unusual about this?
Let's take a closer look.
Catch it yet?
Maybe if you see the caterpillar more closely?
The caterpillar has two pairs of filaments or "tubercles" that look like antennae. That means it is a monarch butterfly caterpillar, Danaus plexippus.
The butterfly is a queen butterfly, Danaus gilippus. The queen caterpillar has three pairs of tubercles and different patterned stripes (see comparison here).
They are life stages of two different species, although they are related.
Yes, our milkweeds are busy this year.
It's always a good week when monarch butterflies are flying in your yard.
Generally migrating monarchs arrive in Arizona in the end of August. It would be nice if we are seeing some adults who completed their life cycles here.
Fall must be approaching, because look who showed up in our yard:
This was a female monarch butterfly and she laid an egg.
The plant is commonly called a rush milkweed or desert milkweed. It is a favorite of both monarch and queen butterflies.
If you have a minute, insect photographer Alex Wild has wonderful close up photographs of a monarch butterfly egg and caterpillar. Enjoy!