Metamorphosis! The many forms of an insect!
Sometimes you have to hang around awhile to
get the whole story. Insects have different forms as they go through
their life cycles. We don't often get to see all the stages in
their development, but I did this week and want to share my observations.
Earlier in the season, we found a brown, fuzzy caterpillar under
a piece of plywood. It was not very active, and I suspected it
might be ready to go into the resting stage - you know, a pupa!
I kept it in a container, along with the food (clover) that I
read was favored by the caterpillar we tentatively identified
as a Ornate Tiger Moth. Sure enough, in a few days, it crawled
out of its fuzzy caterpillar skin and formed a cloudy/blue pupa.
I kept it, in hopes of an adult emerging. Today, a beautiful moth
flipped open one end of the pupa and came out as an adult moth.
It had a special surprise: The hind wings were hidden, but in
flight are revealed as pink with designs. We let the moth free
and it crawled under a ledge to await the nighttime when it will
fly in search of a mate. Look for these lovely moths where they
may be attracted to outside lights. As an added note, I did not
see the moth attract a mate or lay eggs. The insect overwinters
as a caterpillar, which is understandable since it has a fur coat!
There is another delightful insect now showing
its stages of development, if not all of them. Look for the pink
flowering Bindweed which looks like a Morning Glory. If there
are chewed leaves, look for the tiny brown larva that looks like
an animal dropping. Also scout around for the adult beetles, which
may be shining like a gold coin! These are two stages of a Tortoise
Beetle. The larvae are equipped with a tail-like fork. Upon this
fork are heaped their excrement and castoff larval skins! The
result is something that looks a bit of mud or bird dropping.
Eventually the larva is transformed into a pupa which, after a
period of time, opens up for the adult beetle to climb out. The
beetles are quite beautiful, varying in color from an orange to
a shiny gold! So, get out and look for these creatures now on
Our snorkeling outing turned up something I
have been hoping to see for some time. We found many Moon Snails
and two looked as if they were in the process of laying eggs in
those sand collars! Now, all I have to observe is these snails
mating. That must be quite a sight to see, but is a necessary
prelude to the egg laying. In the picture to the right there is
a piece of a sand collar below the shell.
Finally, I have to report the first sighting
of a Monarch Butterfly! I was out in my garden, picking Sugar
Snap Peas, when I lifted my eyes to check the flowering Milkweed
nearby. Lo and behold, there was a female Monarch taking a drink
of the flower's nectar. Maybe it will lay a few eggs in between
the sips. So now, we can begin following the wonderful Monarch's
life cycle. Its metamorphosis is speedier than that of the Ornate
Tiger Moth, but involves a long migration, unique in the insect