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.
Did you guess the identities of the milkweed insects from last week? Let's check.
- The yellow-orange insects on the stem are aphids. More specifically, they are the oleander aphid, Aphis nerii. Hint: Aphids are the ones with two "tailpipes" or cornicles on the back.
2. The red and black one insect might be hard to tell from this angle, but it is a true bug. A little one with two white dots in the wing is a small milkweed bug, Lygaeus kalmii.
3. This one was tough because the photograph isn't very close. It is an assassin bug, Zelus renardii. It is probably waiting for a bee or fly to capture.
4. I think everyone recognized the praying mantis. In this case, it is the Mediterranean mantis, Iris oratoria. (See previous post).
5. This one is tricky. Cirrelda correctly recognized it is a lady beetle.
6. The pale green oval at the end of the hairlike stalk is the egg of a lacewing. (Life cycle in previous post).
7. The cute striped caterpillar will turn into a monarch butterfly.
At this time of year, the butterfly will probably migrate farther north to lay its eggs on another milkweed plant.
We're glad it stopped by.
Remember we had adult monarch butterflies flying last week?
Well, look what they left behind.
Wait, what's that?
Hungry, hungry monarch caterpillars is what they left.
We've noticed the caterpillars usually feed on the flower buds rather than other parts of the rush milkweed.
Photograph taken 10/11/2016.
See a previous post for more about caterpillars found on rush milkweed plants.