Sunday, March 23, 2014

milkweed tell-all, part 4 of 5, still surprises for me

post #182
     More milkweeds, as 2013 progressed.  I guess I should simply say The year progressed and I obsessed...  Actually, the plants just continue to be interesting. I did most of my checking this fall at Location #3, along route 504.  However this first photo was made this week just to show where the three milkweed stalks were, on the left, along the fence.  The pull-off area for my car is on the right:

October 2, 2013 -- The seed pods are beginning to open up.

a seed pod split open, showing the hanging bunch of seeds still inside

another surprise visitor!  A grasshopper, on the move. I feel lucky to have not missed this shot!  The seeds are starting to be blown about, each one with a kind of parachute.

The grasshopper here is not as sharp, but the seeds and their carry-me-in-the-wind fuzz show up well in the midday sun.

Surely these milkweed bugs are way too numerous and are doing harm.

overview, the next day, of the milkweed stalks in location #3

a week later

nearby hay field, October 19, 2013

The seeds seem stuck together by wet weather as they hang out of the split-open pod.

Some seeds manage to "dry out and fly right".  

      I attended an excellent presentation this week about setting up Monarch Way Stations.  These give the Monarchs a place to lay eggs as they travel north from Mexico.  These gardens should have a combination of nectar bearing plants (in large enough groups for the butterflies to see) and milkweeds since the Monarch will only lay eggs on the leaves of milkweed. We saw a photo by Betty Hall of a Monarch butterfly in the process of laying eggs!  Tiny white balls.  I will hope to see some this spring.

        I was able to ask our speaker, Linda Porter, about the role of milkweed bugs, and of spiders, and about the toxicity of the white fluid within the milkweed stems.  Mostly what is needed for these beautiful butterflies is places to lay their eggs, as they move north.  And, of course, what they and all other plants and animals also need is for us human beings to be using our brain power to come to terms with how the climate change we are causing impacts all life forms on this best-hope-for-us planet. 

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