Monday, April 11, 2016

One Little, Two Little, Three Little...


We have been watching our milkweed plants for Monarch caterpillars, and finally found three this morning. The largest was about an inch and a quarter long, and the other two were barely an inch. All three were happily munching away, well hidden in the long branchy stems of the milkweed.

You wouldn't think that something with bright yellow, black and white stripes would be hard to notice. But at this small size, those narrow stripes combine visually and make the caterpillars look greenish from a distance. The stems of the milkweed are also greenish, so the caterpillars are actually well camouflaged. As they get bigger, those bright stripes will be a warning to would-be predators that these caterpillars are not very tasty.

We took some pictures before heading to work, and then checked on the caterpillars again that afternoon. We re-found three caterpillars, and they were all noticeably larger. If these are the same caterpillars, they have grown considerably in less than ten hours.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Neighborhood Wildflower Walk

Here are some wildflowers we saw on a recent morning walk (thanks to the nice rain we've had so far this year).

SAND VERBENA - This plant grows in local sand dunes. In years with enough rain you can see massive fields of its purple flowers covering the open desert. It grows low to the ground.

BROWN-EYED PRIMROSE - Flowers are creamy white with brown spots in the center.


Arizona Lupine - Shades of lavender and purple on a stalk with palmate leaves.

Our neighborhood is mostly built out with homes, curbs and gutters. In spite of the urbanization there are still pockets of nature popping up everywhere, if you keep your eyes open.