Monarchs 7 and 8 Released Last Week
All 8 were females, which is odd, given that the male to female ratio is 1:1. They were both lovely.
I don't miss the almost-daily cleaning of their habitats and harvesting and inspecting of the milkweed, but I sure do miss releasing them. It's a thrill to see them taking in their new home (they turn their heads, looking around) and then fluttering away. I think I found the caterpillar I thought got blown away in the storm, and it was looking really, really good.
Then I found 2 more.
I was glad to know those swamp milkweed in front of the studio aren't death traps, after having the 3 cats I took in die and finding a 4th dead on one of the plants. These 3 have all gone off to do their transformation. I'm disappointed I can't find them, as I had planned to tag them. I found a smaller cat in the south prairie, but when I went to check on it the next day, it was dead. But - we're now seeing quite a few Monarchs frolicking (seems to be the most apt verb) around our property. Shannon and I are daily saying, "Hey, I saw..." Dr. Donald Lewis, of Iowa State University, said in an email that people are seeing higher numbers of Monarchs than in the recent past, but the number is still "depressingly low." He said the European paper wasp, which you can see in the gallery, is cause for worry. They eat the cats. Dr. Lewis also said that some are reporting seeing more pollinators and some aren't seeing any. I'm seeing them, but definitely less than last year. There are quite a few bumble bees in our partridge pea, which makes me feel a bit better. The soldier beetles are thick, but so are the ambush bugs. Although not a pollinator, this was a fun shot to take. A face only a mother could love - if even that. It's a cicada.
By the way, the Goldenrod crab spider got fed up with me and my camera, so it moved on from its coneflower. Guess spiders don't like the paparazzi either.