The Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is in bloom and has been for a few weeks. Up to that point, I'd only seen the occasional Monarch and worried that they'd passed us by this year. But this week, they're back en force. Just like last year, there isn't a day where you can't go out to Max's Garden and see one flitting about. Sometimes there are two.
As I mentioned before, our garden is a certified Monarch Waystation and we grow a couple of different kinds of Asclepias and other butterfly magnets to attract Monarchs and any other butterflies that care to stop for a sip of nectar.
We love it when they stay and raise a family here, too, which is just what Monarchs and Swallowtails did last year. So far, I've not detected any eggs, chrysalis, or caterpillars - just the butterflies.
Oh wait. We have had an abundance of one certain caterpillar. TheTomato Hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata), which if allowed to remain, turns into the Five-Spotted Hawk Moth. They're not on our tomatoes (not yet, anyway), but they're devouring the leaves of the 'Dropmore Scarlet' honeysuckle! I've picked off at least a dozen of these squishy, plump green leaf hogs and tossed them into the corn field behind the garden. Romie seems to think they won't find their way back to the garden, but I wouldn't bet on it.
One of the ones I found was no more than a half-inch long. I can't believe I even saw it. The larger ones can be hard enough to see, due to their color being so close to that of the foliage they're eating.
I saw a Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) butterfly this week that was so tattered I wondered how it even flew, but it seemed to have no problem.
Compare that one to a perfect Monarch (Danaus plexippus) that showed up a couple of days later ...
In addition to the Cabbage White, Tiger Swallowtail, Red Admiral, and numerous other unidentified species, we've had lots of Spicebush Swallowtails, too.
Just a couple of weeks ago, I spied this Eastern Comma.