AND INSECTIVOROUS CURIOSITIES!
This week, I found another old friend, the caterpillar of a Painted Lady Butterfly! These are really beautiful and quite easy to find if you look on plants such as Pearly Everlasting that have gray-green fuzzy leaves and stems. I have a weed that grows in among my vegetables that often is host for these caterpillars that make little whitish web like nests. In addition to stripes and spots, it has branched spines to make it a beautiful find. Needless to say when I find its host plants growing in my garden uninvited, I welcome them and give them space! The vegetable garden is suffering from lack of rain, but I am harvesting lots of Sugar Snap Peas these days and ate my first small tomato off the vine. Broccoli also is producing dinner material these days.
One of the highlights of the week came when I found a patch of the insectivorous plant, Sundew in bloom. Not only that, but I noticed a blue Damselfly was stuck on one of the sticky leaves! I picked the insect off, and set it flying. It had not yet been digested. But how does a plant digest an insect? I referred to a handy book on Swamp and Bog plants by John Eastman to get that answer. Those leaves you see on the right have sticky glands that insects get caught by. The glands secrete a anesthetic substance along with digestive enzymes that enable the soft parts of an insect's body to be absorbed. This insect trapping gives these plants a source of nitrogen. I looked to see if any insects had been caught by this plant and found a beautiful blue Damselfly stuck to those leaves. I carefully picked the leaves and insect to see if the animal had been digested.....no it was still alive and I freed it! Below you see the insect and a closeup of a couple of leaves to which it was stuck. Look at those big blue eyes! The bent wing was able to function once free of the sticky leaf.
The caterpillar you see above is now in a chrysalis state, as is the Monarch from last week. Now, there is more chemistry going on to create butterflies from a gooey mess! The Painted Lady chrysalis is hanging from the plant, as a caterpillar, it was feeding from. The plant is Pearly Everlasting. If you look closely, you can see that the leaves have a white fuzziness to them. Perhaps next week, I can show you what emerges!
We continue to have hot and dry
weather up here. Campers aren't complaining, but my garden is
wilting. The beetles are decimating the potato plants, but we
continue to enjoy the Sugar Snap Peas. I've even picked a few
small Cherry Tomatoes! We finally got out on the water yesterday
with a great cruise to the outer islands. The Great Blue Heron
can still be seen high in trees as they tend to their young, and
the seals were basking in the sun on East Brown Cow Island. The
beat goes on.......
7/18/08 Ronnie into insects.