Monthly Archives: August 2010

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Life Cycle

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Life Cycle Postcard postcard

I’m currently suffering from wedding derangement syndrome (my daughter is getting married in less than a month), so to try to achieve some sanity I escape to my garden. (Where I discover lots of weeds, oh well…)

A couple of days ago, I saw black swallowtail butterflies fluttering like crazy around my bronze fennel plants.  I dashed to get my camera and then fluttered around madly myself to get some photos as the butterflies briefly paused to lay eggs.  I also found a chrysalis hanging by threads from a fennel stalk, the first chrysalis I’ve ever seen in my garden!  I put together some of the photographs in the above collage.  The eggs are in the upper left photo in the collage.  A butterfly is laying eggs in the upper right photo.



Filed under Butterflies, Entomology, Gardening, Humor, Insects, Kansas, Life, Nature, Photography

I Like Ike

Ike, a five-year-old male cat awaiting adoption, knows how to get comfortable in his room at Wayside Waifs. What he'd really like is to hang out with you!

Ike, age five, is a great cat.  However, as much as I enjoy seeing him at Wayside Waifs in Kansas City when I go there to take photographs, I wish he’d find a forever home.  He’d be a great asset to your home.

Here’s what his biography says on the Wayside Waifs website: Are you looking for a twinkle of excitement in your life? Feel that too often life is lingering on the boring side? Well, do I have a solution for you! ADOPT ME! My goofy, yet sophisticated, personality is bound to knock your socks off. Couple that with my playful, frisky side and you definitely have a fun-loving bundle of entertainment 365 days a year! We can sit on the couch and I’ll whisper in your ear, “hey you, time for a belly rub – oh and don’t forget to rub the ears,” then, I’ll dive off the couch and bat around my play mice and jingle balls. You’ll giggle at me chasing my tail and laugh out loud as I stalk the dust bunny hiding under the coffee table. Sound like fun? Come see me at Wayside and let’s talk about making our connection permanent!

Click here for more information about Wayside Waifs.  Here’s a link to my previous post I’m Adorable! Take Me Home!  about Wayside Waifs, which contains a link to still another Wayside Waifs post with photographs of adorable cats and kittens, awaiting adoption.  See a pattern here? Fortunately, many of the cats and kittens pictured in those posts have found homes, thanks to wonderful people like you!  But there are always more animals coming into Wayside Waifs that need homes.


Filed under Animals, Cats

Butterflies and Caterpillars — Oh, My!

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly on Purple Statice Postcards
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly on Purple Statice

This year in my garden, I added more host and nectar plants to the caterpillar and butterfly menu, but I haven’t seen many butterflies.  Maybe I should get outside more — and weed!  I know they visit, because I’ve found plenty of caterpillars on my plants, particularly the bronze fennel.  Sometimes there are dozens of Black Swallowtail (BST) caterpillars on my many fennel plants.

If you click on the photo you can see a tiny black swallowtail caterpillar on the far fennel stem in the front pot. It kind of looks like bird shit. That’s what the two large caterpillars looked like a week earlier when I gave the potted fennel to J and V. The baby was just an egg. My brother emailed me this photo to show me how voracious these critters are. Hopefully, they can supplement the menu with parsley.

I gave several potted bronze fennel plants to my brother “J” and his wife “V”.  The fennel plants I gave them were hosting some tiny BST caterpillars.  But BST caterpillars don’t stay tiny for long.   My brother emailed me a week later, saying they had “caterpillar overload” and wanted to know what else to feed the ravenous, voracious caterpillars.  He and V were afraid the caterpillars would starve.  The caterpillars had almost eaten the potted fennel to the dirt.  I suggested they buy parsley at the store, put it in water and hope the caterpillars don’t mind the change in menu.  V, a special education teacher for preschoolers, said her students are enthralled every year when they raise Monarch caterpillars, which require milkweed to eat.

A Monarch Butterfly caterpillar eats a swamp milkweed leaf in my garden.

BST caterpillars must eat members of the dill family, such as dill, parsley and fennel. (It’s amazing that’s all they need to eat.  Imagine just living and thriving on garnish!)  This fall, I’ll pot more fennel to give to friends to plant to attract more BST butterflies.  As development spreads,  there are fewer wild areas for butterflies and caterpillars to flourish, so we need to help them along by providing food and habitat.  Bronze fennel will seed itself and is a perennial, so it’s a great caterpillar host plant.  It does get tall and wide, though, so you need a large sunny spot for it in the back of your flower bed.

This summer, I saw many butterflies at Pendleton’s Country Market, which I visited with my daughter and her fiance to choose flowers for their September wedding.  The top photograph is from our visit to the fields.   The Pendletons grow plants for butterflies and their caterpillars in addition to flowers for cutting.  They also have a butterfly house you can visit.

Black Swallowtail Butterfly on Coneflower Postcard

From Jim Lovett of Monarch Watch: Greetings Monarch Watchers!

Here’s brief update to kick off the 2010 Monarch Migration/Tagging Season…

Status of the Population
The 2009-2010 overwintering monarch population in Mexico covered a forest area of only 1.92 hectares. This figure represents an all time low for overwintering monarchs and is well below the long-term average of 7.44 hectares (1994-2010). We worried about these low numbers because of the possibility that a devastating storm could drive the population even lower. And then it happened — a storm of the worst possible dimensions hit the overwintering area starting on February 2. Accounts of the flooding and landslides can be found on the Monarch Watch Blog at

Attempts to find out how the monarchs fared following these winter storms were unsatisfactory. We estimated that at least 50% of the monarchs died during the winter months, recognizing that this value could have been low.

Fortunately, the conditions encountered by the monarchs that reached Texas were favorable. The result, in spite of the low number of returning monarchs, was a substantial first generation. These butterflies colonized much of the northern breeding area from late April to mid-June.

It appears thmonarchs are making a modest recovery and we expect the overwintering population will measure close to 3 hectares.

For a more detailed status and updates throughout the season please visit the Monarch Watch Blog at at the

Monarch Tagging Kits
We have begun shipping out tagging kits for the 2010 monarch butterfly tagging season – all of those ordered from January-June this year are on their way and those ordered last month should go out this week. New orders should be turned around within a week so if you haven’t ordered tags yet there is still time. 🙂

You can find all of the information about ordering tags, downloading additional data sheets, and our tagging program in general at

Chip in For Monarch Watch
Last year was our first “Chip in for Monarch Watch” fundraising campaign – a chance for Monarch Watchers, colleagues, friends, and family across the planet to show their support of Monarch Watch and its director Chip Taylor who brought the program to life nearly two decades ago.

By the end of the campaign, more than $23,000 was contributed by nearly 500 donors – wow! These funds put us in the best financial position we have ever been in heading into the winter season.

Many of you asked if we would be making this an annual fundraising campaign and we think that is a great idea! Although we accept donations at any time (, this formal effort will be a yearly reminder to renew your support and give you the opportunity to share your monarch stories or other comments with us. If you haven’t viewed the comments and photos submitted last year, we encourage you to do so – the connections facilitated by monarchs and Monarch Watch are truly extraordinary.

The 2010 “Chip in for Monarch Watch” campaign will run through the entire month of August – if you enjoy and/or appreciate all that Monarch Watch offers throughout the year, please consider making a donation today…it’s quick, easy, secure, and fully tax-deductible. As you may know, we rely on these contributions to allow us to continue to offer educational, conservation, and research programs and resources.

Donations to Monarch Watch are managed via the KU Endowment Association (KUEA) here at the University of Kansas and 100% of your donation will go to Monarch Watch – none of it will be used for KUEA operating expenses. Donations may be made by phone, online, or by mail and you can easily set up a monthly or annual gift. Also, many employers offer matching programs, effectively doubling your gift.

Please take some time to visit our “Chip in for Monarch Watch” page and pledge your support before the end of the month. If you have any questions about this campaign please feel free to drop us a line anytime!

Chip in for Monarch Watch 2010:


Filed under Butterflies, Education, Entomology, Environment, Family, Gardening, Insects, Kansas, Life, Natural History, Nature, Photography, University of Kansas