Archive for May, 2012

Caterpillar update

May 31, 2012

Here’s the little guy now:

He’s about twice as big as he was a couple of days ago — I’d say 5 or 6 millimeters. Notice that he’s lost his black head. He’s starting to get the characteristic Monarch stripes.

(And of course I have no idea if it’s a “he” or a “she” … )

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Brand new caterpillar!

May 29, 2012

OK, now this is NOT the one I documented last time. It turns out there were several eggs on the plant — and this one was not on a leaf, but on one of the milkweed pods.

He has JUST hatched, and is starting to eat his old egg shell. Isn’t he cute? He’s tiny tiny tiny … a couple of centimeters millimeters long.

Can Monarch caterpillars eat pods as well as leaves?? I hope so, because it’s a LONG way to the nearest leaf — at least, if you’re only a couple of centimeters millimeters long. He has to travel the length of the pod, the length of its short stem, and then crawl along the plant stem an inch or so to get to the nearest leaf.

Anyway, mazel tov, intrepid travelor, welcome to our world!

UPDATE: Oops, I realized I got the scale of his length completely wrong! It’s millimeters, not centimeters! I’d say he’s 2 – 3 millimeters in length.

Newsflash — Monarch egg!

May 24, 2012

Yay! I found my first Monarch butterfly egg on the milkweeds!

The tiny white dot.

There may be more, but I can’t find any. But at least one butterfly has found my plants! Stay tuned … I will follow this guy’s development.

Wildflowers fade; New blooms; Mound

May 22, 2012

Just an update on what’s happening:

(1) I’m now working on my first man-made “mound”. This is intended to give more interest to the otherwise pretty flat front yard, as well as to more closely mimic a natural wilderness area. It involves piling up dirt (in this case, the dirt that was removed in creating my decomposed granite path in the back yard), tamping it down, wetting it down, and repeating until the mound is the height you want it to be, and hard enough to walk on. I’ve got Gabriel working on it. The mound is in the general area of one of the removed Italian Cypresses and the large bush that was right next to it. I’ve got it “curling around” a low area — this is an area that naturally catches a lot of the runoff from my roof when it rains. So in that area I’ll have some stones of multiple sizes, hopefully resembling a stream or small pond-like area. Stay tuned. Eventually I may have one or two more mounds in the front yard.

(2) The wildflowers, alas, are starting to fade away — i.e., drying up and dying. Everything is impermanence! So they are getting to be an eyesore as well as a bit of a fire hazard, and I’ve been pulling them out by the handful. Last year, I waited until they all died and then cut them into pieces with shears, leaving the pieces lying on the ground so that the seeds remained, and would sprout the next spring. However, if anything I had too many wildflowers this year, so I am going to physically remove most of the dead wildflowers this year. I feel I will still have a healthy crop next year, as many of them have already shed their seeds.

However, there are still a few late-bloomers among the Clarkias, and the Farewell to Springs are still saying their farewells, for the most part.

(3) Several more blooms showing up on my sages! My Winifred Gilman sage now has four lovely blossoms. The Mexican sage is also eking out a couple of smallish blossoms. I’m accustomed to my sages not blooming in the first spring, so this is great news!

The Cleveland sage is now bursting with blossoms — this is its second spring.  It likes very much that the Italian Cypress is out of the way!

(4) The Fuchsias have not started to bloom yet. I’ve seen them blooming in other places, so not sure what gives. I hope they do bloom, as they usually “take up the slack” when the wildflowers are gone, and bloom all summer and well into the fall. Also, what gives with my Coyote Mints? No blossoms in at least a year. Hmmm …

(5) I’ve planted some more milkweeds for the butterflies. Alas, no butterflies yet! I can’t find a single egg on any of my plants. Come on, you guys, come and get it!

(6) The Douglas Irises have stopped blooming. I spoke to Rob, and he said it’s normal for each blossom to curl up and die after a couple of days, and for them to appear serially — one after another, until finally all are spent.