Atop Darien

Bee Curiosity

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Munch, munch, munch

As caterpillars, monarch butterflies need to eat milkweed plants to thrive. Milkweed plants are quite toxic to most insects and monarch butterflies have evolved the ability to sequester the cardiac glycoside toxin within milkweed and ways to circumvent the gooey latex that comes out of the leaf. The plant uses latex to glue an unlucky insects mouth shut. Here are a few pictures from the past week of some large monarch caterpillars.


5th instar monarch on common milkweed

Evidence that a monarch caterpillar sniped the milkweed vein to prevent latex from flowing

Gooey Latex from milkweed

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More monarch caterpillars

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Neck and neck….and neck…and neck

The drought this summer has been so bad in southeastern Massachusetts that the pond at Wheaton Farm in Easton has nearly dried up. On an early Sunday morning in September, I was able to walk out into the middle of the lake and came across a flock of Great Egrets (also know as a “wedge” of egrets) and a single great blue heron.

As I was watching the flock of birds, I was able to capture 4 egrets taking off at the same time in nearly the same position. Here is the photo.


I love how their necks are in almost every position that you would see, some extended, some curved, and the wings are in the middle, up stroke, and down stroke as they take off to fly.

Here are a few other photos of the “wedge” of egrets.