Life and Death on a Milkweed Plant

While mowing the pasture the other day I saw a fluttering monarch butterfly.

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I thought, “Cool, I’m watching this butterfly emerge from the chrysalis.” However, as I watched I realized that for some reason the butterfly had been stuck in this position and now was hopelessly damaged. I helped it out of the chrysalis but its wings were damaged and all it could do was flutter, but not fly.IMG_3460

I continued mowing.

IMG_3468There were plenty more milkweed plants that were teeming with life. That’s the Common Buckeye Butterfly and the Alfalfa Butterfly (see my last post).

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Here is what the seed pods have inside when they are ripe. (Spinning, anyone?)

IMG_3476I identified this one in Bug Guide.net  as the Small Milkweed Bug (also the Common Milkweed Bug, Lygaeus kalmii). It’s surprising how many similar looking bugs you find when you google “red and black bug in CA”.

Small milkweed bug or Common milkweed bug, Lygaeus kalmii

I had to look closely to see the identifying markings. The Guide says: “Adults suck nectar from flowers of various herbaceous plants, and also feed on milkweed seeds(?). Also reported to be scavengers and predators, especially in spring when milkweed seeds are scarce. They have been reported feeding on honey bees, monarch caterpillars and pupae, and dogbane beetles, among others.”

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Here is more life, but I’m not going to try and specifically ID this one.

And the circle continues…

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed

The other photos were from a couple of weeks ago and I just saw this monarch caterpillar a few days ago on another milkweed.

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2 thoughts on “Life and Death on a Milkweed Plant

    • That is very cool. Did you already know about that or did you google and find it? Thanks for sharing. I am going to try spinning the fiber and see what happens. But it is so light and fly-away I may have to be in a vacuum sealed room. 🙂

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