We had a super fun morning at the Cape Ann Museum Kids program. Courtney Richardson and her assistants Sarah and Nick set up a long table in the auditorium where the caterpillars, art supplies, plants, and pods were arranged. The kids were wonderfully curious, as were the adults. Many thanks to Jan Crandall for supplying the caterpillars. Thank you to Courtney and to the Museum for the opportunity to share about Cape Ann Monarchs!
Four Monarchs eclosing and nineteen caterpillars pupating, all in a day! And we have a new batch of caterpillars, just in time for my program tomorrow morning at the Cape Ann Museum. I hope to see you there!
Many thanks to my friend Jan Crandall for the caterpillars. She has a gorgeous butterfly garden and this morning there were dozens and dozens of caterpillars on her Common Milkweed plants.
Several readers have written to ask how do I manage to have so many Monarch Butterfly caterpillars and chrysalises. The answer is very simple–because we have planted a wonderful little milkweed patch!
We grow both Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) side-by-side. Our milkweed patch is planted near our kitchen. When washing the dishes, I can look out the window and watch all the pollinators and fabulous activity that takes place at the milkweed patch.
Several weeks ago, a Mama Monarch arrived and I watched as she gently floated from leaf to leaf, and bud to bud, ovipositing one golden egg at a time. She went back and forth between the Common and Marsh, depositing eggs on both the tender upper foliage as well as the more sturdy lower leaves. I waited for her to leave, but not too long (because the eggs are quickly eaten by spiders) and collected the sprigs with the eggs. I thought I had scooped up about eight eggs and you can imagine our surprise when 19 caterpillars hatched, all within the same day! Female Monarchs like to deposit eggs around the tiny buds of Marsh Milkweed and many of the eggs were hidden within the buds.
Here’s a video of a Mama depositing eggs on Marsh Milkweed buds. Charlotte was with me that day and we were dancing to the song “There She Goes” as the butterfly was depositing her eggs and it was too perfect not to leave in the video.
Our garden is postage stamp size, but I have managed to fill it with a wide variety of songbird, butterfly, bee, and hummingbird attractants. The great majority of plants are North American native wildflowers and shrubs, and we also include a few nectar-rich, non-native, but non-invasive, flowering plants. Plant, and they will come 🙂
Join documentary filmmaker and photographer Kim Smith, creator of Beauty on the Wing: The Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly on Second Saturday Cape Ann Museum Kids. Learn all about the life story of the Monarch and how you can help the butterfly on its migration. The program runs from 10am to noon. To register, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Families of school aged children visit free on Second Saturday mornings. Visit the galleries, join a workshop, and more!
A surprise meeting with a beautiful female Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
She is drinking nectar from the wildflower Saponaria officinalis. The plant’s many common names include Soapwort, Bouncing-bet, and Wild Sweet William. The name Soapwort stems from its old fashioned use in soap making. The leaves contain saponin, which was used to make a mild liquid soap, gentle enough for washing fine textiles.
Saponaria blooms during the summertime. Although introduced from Eurasia, you can find this wildflower growing in every state of the continental US.
The hummingbird in the clip is a female. She lacks the brilliant red-feathered throat patch, or gorget, of the male. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are all around us, you just have to know what to plant to bring them to your garden. Mostly they eat tiny insects but if you plant their favorite nectar-providing plants, they will come!
If I could only grow one plant to attract the Ruby-throats, it would be honeysuckle. Not the wonderfully fragrant, but highly invasive, Japanese honeysuckle, but our beautiful native trumpet honeysuckle that flowers in an array of warm-hued shades of Spanish orange (‘John Clayton’), deep ruby red (‘Major Wheeler’), and my very favorite, the two-toned orange and red ‘Dropmore Scarlet.’
While filming wildlife over the past week at Revere and Winthrop Beaches, it has been fascinating to see the sand sculptures taking shape for this weekend’s festive International Revere Beach Sand Sculpting exhibit and competition. The theme is “Celebrating Literacy,” and the sculptors have created interpretations of favorite works of literature written for children, teens and adults. A storybook castle is the centerpiece of the exhibit. It’s all so beautifully ephemeral. The whimsical sculptures will be gone next week.
The festival begins today, Friday, July 20th and runs through Sunday, July 22nd. A ferris wheel and merry-go-round add to the fun, and a fireworks display over Revere Beach is scheduled for Saturday night. The event is free and open to the public. Attached is the complete schedule. For more information visit: http://reverebeachpartnership.com/
Helena Bangert of the Netherlands
Deborah Barrett/Cutulle of Saugus, Mass.
Mélineige Beauregard of Quebec, Canada
Jonathan ‘Jobi’ Bouchard of Montreal, Canada
Enguerrand David of Belgium
Ilya Filmonstev of Russia
Remy Hoggard of Bulgaria
Paul Hoggard of England
Sue McGrew of Tacoma, Washington
Fergus Mulvany of Ireland
Pavel Mylnikov of Moscow, Russia
Rachel Stubbs of England
Steve Topazio of Tiverton, Rhode Island
Abe Waterman of Prince Edward Island, Canada