I set out on a walk to check milkweeds for monarch butterflies. Sadly, I found no evidence of monarchs on that walk, but there were many small and interesting things to see. Milkweed is home to more than just monarchs.
The back side of the dam for our farm pond is filled with milkweed. There is not much evidence of the leaves being eaten, so there are not too many caterpillars munching milkweed. I did see a Milkweed Tiger Moth caterpillar. I have spotted several monarch butterflies here at the farm this year. A much better tally than just a few years ago when I saw none. Yesterday I watched a monarch flitting around the milkweed so will hunt today for any eggs that may have been laid.
Our farm is overrun by little orange snails. These first showed up here about ten years ago. They were brought into the pond by wild ducks and other waterfowl, I assume. Since then they have spread and become a veritable pestilence. There were many snails eating milkweed.
I interrupted a wasp couple in the middle of insect lovemaking. So I guess this photo is x rated? The wasps demonstrate sexual dimorphism, a difference in size based on gender. The miniature male is carried around by the female as he does his fertilizing job.
A tiny tree frog, half the length of my thumb, hid in the leaves of a milkweed. These tree frogs are abundant this year. Perhaps that is due to the large amount of rain we have received. Several times I’ve seen baby tree frogs clinging to the outside of our house windows in the evening. They stare in at us as we stare at them.
There was a most unusual black and white ladybug-type beetle on the milkweed. I have tried to identify this beetle. There are so many varieties of ladybugs that I haven’t found this particular one. I think it is rather striking.
Also found several Reticulated Netwinged beetles. They look almost like butterflies, but their antennas give away their identity. These beetles are unusual in that their larvae will band together in huge masses. The adults are able to excrete defensive chemicals that discourage predators.
Milkweed, golden rod and thistle grow well together, maybe because they are about the same height. The golden rod were in full bloom and attracting an army of insects. I saw wild honeybees, bumble bees, wasps and tiny beetles feeding on the golden nectar. In some places the wild bee population is threatened by whatever is killing the domestic honeybees. It appears there are no problems with the wild bees here at the farm. Perhaps having an organic operation is the secret to healthy bees (and other insects!)