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12 July 2007 @ 09:05 pm
Nature Picspam!  
Okay, anybody who knows me at all, knows that I'm a huge nature freak. I like spiders, and snakes, and all those creepy crawly type things. And I'm a total "animal rescue" freak as well. When I ran a summer camp, I used to run a "spider saving club" (which consisted of me and one young girl), and we used to find spiders indoors, and kindly move them back outside, before any harm could come to them.

Soooo ... it should come as no surprise that I like to bring nature indoors, and enjoy giving it a helping hand whenever the opportunity arises.

Such was the case in early July of this year. Last summer, my mother had given me a "swamp milkweed" plant to plant in my "backyard garden", as it would attract monarch butterflies. This year, the plant flourished, and did host a bundle of 12 little monarch caterpillars.

Here is the mom, dropping her eggs on the milkweed:

And here are the caterpillars (who grow up quite quickly, and pretty much demolished the entire plant!):

Now, here's where tragedy strikes. I had begun to notice that a few of the caterpillars had dropped into the soil below the plant. When I saw the first ones, I picked them up, and put them back on the plant leaves, only to see them roll back down. It was as though they were paralyzed, and could not hang onto the leaves.

On July 1st, I went to water my plant, and noticed two flat beetle type "shield shaped" bugs on the milkweek. They were neat looking, so I left them. Later that evening, I went back down and saw that one beetle was sitting on what looked to be a blackened, squishy caterpillar (i.e. one of my monarchs).


So I did what any good Brennanite would have, and did "my share of Googling". I realized these bugs were spined soldier beetles, a.k.a. stink bugs. And they were KILLING my monarch caterpillars, by injecting them with a poison, paralyzing them, and then sucking the life out of them. Far out! But sad.

So ... I found two survivors, and brought them into my apartment, put them in some old fish aquariums, and watched.

Here is the first one, in its chrysalis (the chrysalis is gorgeous, and this photo doesn't do it justice. It's actually clear (the caterpillar itself is green in its first stage of metamorphasis), with gold bands and spots on it):

Here is the chrysalis as it appeared this morning, with the black and orange butterfly visible through the cover:

And here is Earl, the monarch. He was born sometime this morning, and while he's not the most intelligent bug I've ever met, he's pretty damn beautiful.

Also, I took some photos of what I think is my most favourite bug EVER, the "fishfly". Anybody else have these? They're cute, and harmless, and just lovely little guys to wear on you all day. Plus, their lifespan is 24 hours, so ... how can anybody not like 'em?

Okay, hope you enjoyed that! I'll be away roadtrippin' it to Fargo, ND until Sunday night, so ... if you don't hear from me, you'll know why!

Peace. Out.
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Current Music: The Seed 2.0 - The Roots
(Deleted comment)
Wicked Veggie: Moment Dr. Coxkimberkatie on July 13th, 2007 04:48 am (UTC)
Aww, I am honoured that you liken me to Steve Irwin. He was an awesome, awesome man, and I really loved his work!

Yep, as far I've learned in my Googling, the last "batch" of monarchs do migrate down to Mexico in the fall. I've never seen it, but I've heard it's beautiful, as they "swarm" like birds, and all fly together. They truly are beautiful creatures, though!
Dakotah: TJack (No Table Touching!)callieach on July 13th, 2007 04:45 pm (UTC)
Who knew I was in the LJpresence of my very own entomologist? The milkweed's pretty, though.
Wicked Veggie: Tee heekimberkatie on July 16th, 2007 01:47 am (UTC)
Tee hee hee ... it would be quite fun to be an entomologist. I do love my bugs (so Jack and I would get along *swimmingly*!).

The milkweed was really pretty, but because the caterpillars ate even the flower buds, I didn't get to see many bloom :(
aka_lanieaka_lanie on July 16th, 2007 08:26 pm (UTC)
Kimber - friend to even the smallest creepy crawlies! Great pictures, my friend. I'm not as into the nature stuff as you are, but I can appreciate a good, earthy-story.

As for fish flies - not a big fan. Not scared, more like... grossed out. When I went to camp, they would literally cover our cabins in the morning, as well as anything else we'd left outside. Sure, maybe they do only live for 24 hours, but after that day their stinking, slimy carcasses coated our lakeshores and floated in the water. You try to get a bunch of 12-14 year olds girls to go swimming in that. Yuck.