Tag: butterfly (Page 2 of 6)

Bug of the Week: Monarch Butterfly

While snow is falling elsewhere, we are having record high temperatures. That means some insects are still active, including this monarch butterfly on our desert milkweed plant.

She was fluttering around the plant and then landing here and there.

When she landed, she curled her abdomen. (I was taking the photographs from as far as way as possible with a doubler, so as not to disturb her.)

Any idea what she is doing?

This might give you a clue.

Yes, that white dot is an egg.

You can bet we’ll be watching our milkweed plant closely over the next few weeks to see what develops.

We planted our desert milkweeds for the butterflies. Do you have any butterfly plants in our yard?

Bug of the Week: Caterpillar Central

For some reason, our yard is caterpillar central this week. Here’s what we found in the last two days.

At least eight queen caterpillars on the milkweed plants.

This caterpillar is on the milkweed too, but it looks a bit different. It only has two pairs of black filaments, instead of three.

That’s because this one is a monarch caterpillar, not as common in the Phoenix area.

What’s this on the grapefruit? Looks like a bird dropping with a head.

That’s a young orange dog caterpillar, which turns into a beautiful giant swallowtail butterfly. I have an older post with more information about those. In that year we found caterpillars in August.

This morning we looked way up into the desert willow tree and there’s yet another caterpillar.

It was probably  18 to 20 feet in the air, and still big enough I could get this photograph with a telephoto lens. I would say it is five inches long, maybe six. Based on past experience, I know this is a caterpillar of the rustic sphinx moth, Manduca rustica.

Image of adult moth

Why do we have so many caterpillars right now? Maybe because we had a big rain last week and/or the temperatures have dropped below 100 ┬░ F. In any case, the caterpillars are doing well.

Have you ever seen any of these caterpillars?

Bug of the Week: California Sister Butterfly

We had a lot of choices for “Bug of the Week” today, but this beauty won the contest.


We went hiking in Ramsey Canyon in southeastern Arizona. These butterflies were flying everywhere.

Finally we found some on the ground that were still enough for a photograph.


The butterfly is the California sister, Adelpha bredowii. Can you see the orange tube that is its mouthpart probing the ground?


The butterflies were performing a behavior known as puddling. They are thought to pick up minerals and/or salts from this behavior. Usually puddling butterflies are around actual water-filled puddle or damp ground. This one seems to be probing between rocks.

Butterflies consume a variety of materials besides nectar from flowers. Sometimes butterflies are attracted to rotting fruit (note: this post contains references to butterflies imbibing alcohol).

If you are not offended by graphic vernacular or photographs of butterflies eliminating urine, here is a post about butterflies urinating while they are puddling.

Just goes to show that if you want to attract butterflies, sometimes it takes more than pretty flowers.

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