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Helping Nature Along

So, I've been lovingly caring for 8 Monarch eggs/larvae/chrysalises for a while now, and am pleased to say that, barring any catastrophes, 5 will be emerging as butterflies in the next 6-15 days. I have 3 that are only in their 2nd or 3rd instar phase, so they have a little growing to do yet. I can't wait to release the first butterfly!

We had 2 inches of rain on Saturday so I wasn't in the prairies at all, and when I went out with my camera on Sunday, I thought the pollinators had finally arrived. I saw the biggest bumble bee I've ever seen, a wool carder bee (one of my favorites), and a lot of mason wasps. (You can see all these species on our gallery page.) We've had a few Monarchs around, and lots of cabbage whites and pearl crescents, with some swallowtails here and there. Oh, and these little buggers:

Found out through that it's a jagged ambush bug and it feeds on pollinators, the little turd. I saw another one today, and while I know we really need to let nature do its thing, I kicked it's unpleasant little ass off the coneflower. I might be less inclined to run such interference if there were just more pollinators around! So, what I'm mostly seeing is hordes of dance flies and lots of sweat and long-horned bees, all of which I'm quite fond of, but a little diversity would be nice... Although, I have been seeing something new that I don't recall ever seeing last year - these gorgeous little teal sweat bees:

They're very shy and it's hard to get a good shot of them, but I just delight in seeing them - even if it is on Queen Anne's Lace... Oh, by the way, the father of the farmer with that milkweed stand I mentioned in an earlier post told his wife (whom I've kept in my husband's and my business's Monarch update loop) he was going to mow down there so he could get in to remove some trees. She said, "Like hell you are," and made him call Shannon to see when it would be okay to do that. HA! Go, Katie, go!!!

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