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Category Archives: Menomonie

A beautiful day for a fall hike at Hoffman Hills Recreation Area.

 

In an earlier blog I described raising over a dozen Monarch Caterpillars which I then released into a milkweed patch out on the back 40. I periodically went out to check on them and photograph them.

 

These photos were about six years in the making. Years ago I found a few milkweed plants in my garden. I thought it was great because I was able to photograph and watch the Monarch Caterpillars grow. However, I soon discovered that milkweeds can easily take over and they are very difficult to remove. After putting up with them for a couple of years I decided they had to be moved out of the garden. It took about three years to complete the process. Milkweed roots are bigger than a person’s finger and it is very difficult to kill them. During the removal process I found that I could always find caterpillars  in my garden when I could not find them in my prairie. As I thinned out the milkweed plants I kept finding caterpillars on them even though the milkweed plants might only be a couple of inches tall. At the time I thought that it would be an interesting project to plant some milkweed seeds in planters where they would be isolated and wouldn’t spread into the surrounding area. The hypotheses being that Monarch Caterpillars are attracted to Milkweed Plants isolated  in a clear area away from other vegetation.

 

As it turned out we purchased an urban cabin in Duluth, Minnesota and started to travel frequently. I forgot about my project to plant milkweed plants in containers. This year with Covid 19 I’m stuck at home. Almost every day my wife and I walk a couple of miles down our rural road. I started seeing milkweed plants along the road and many Monarch Butterflies flying around. I remembered that I wanted to try growing milkweed in pots to attract Monarchs. I didn’t have any milkweed seeds so I decided to dig up a few small plants from along the road and transfer them to pots. I diligently watered them every other day for over three weeks. They started to grow but they looked a bit straggly.  On July 11th I was watering the plants and noticed two large Monarch Caterpillars on them. I have no idea where they came from. The nearest milkweed plants were forty yards away in my prairie and I had not seen any caterpillars on plants in the prairie. These are the two fellows that appeared that day. I watched them eat for about a week and spent time photographing them.

 

 

It soon became obvious that they would devour all of the plants in my pots so one morning I took them out to another area on the farm where I had milkweed growing. I continued to check on them and occasionally found them eating on milkweed plants. Several days after removing them I was Surprised to find three more Monarch Caterpillars on my milkweed plants. Interestingly they were of varying sizes with one large one, one medium sized and a third smaller. Once again I photographed them for about a week.

 

 

 

While my milkweed plants were growing I didn’t have enough plants to feed three more caterpillars so after about a week I removed them and took them out to another milkweed patch. In the meantime I had been noticing that Monarch Butterflies were landing on my potted plants. Were they laying eggs was the question?The question was soon answered when I found several more caterpillars on my plants. This time there was one that had clearly recently emerged as a caterpillar. They grew realy fast.  As you can see my plants were a little straggly. The caterpillars seemed to be feeding on the stalks. My wife named them dot and dash.

 

 

I happened to be trying to photograph the smaller one when it was having a bowel movement and wouldn’t stay still. After his bowel movement he ate for a short time then picked up his poop and moved it several times. I had never seen that behavior before.

 

Once again I had to move them because there was not enough food.

My hypotheses seemed to be correct. Monarch Caterpillars are attracted to Milkweed Plants isolated  in a clear area away from other vegetation. In all I had over a dozen Monarch Caterpillars on my potted plants. Next year I’m going to try and raise some of them into butterflies in a terrarium.

 

 

 

 

The Ox-eyed Daisies have been been blooming on the farm.

 

I set a blind up in my back yard because I noticed a pair of Eastern Bluebirds were feeding their young. I thought the young were about to fledge which would mean the birds would be visiting the nest on a regular basis. I was a little disappointed because they only turned up every 15-20 minutes. One other time when I was watching a pair of bluebirds feed their young at least one of the adults was at the house every 90 seconds. Still I was able to get a range of photos.

 

I set up my blind near a Bluebird house where a pair of Eastern Bluebirds were feeding their young. I happened to catch this sequence where the female bluebird was on top of he house when the male arrived with a nice worm. He transferred it to the female bluebird, with some difficulty, and she took it into the house to feed the young. For some reason the male did not go into the house to feed the young. He would just stick his head in and feed whereas the female would actually go into the house.

 

Since we are stranded on the farm during the Covid outbreak we have been walking along the local road each evening. On several occasions we have observed a Wild Turkey out in the field. On another occasion we flushed a whole family and the all flew off including the young. Unfortunately I didn’t have the camera along that day.

 

 

A few weeks ago this House Wren started building a nest in this bird house. It seemed to have abandoned it because this was the last time I saw it on the bird house.

 

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