Milkweed is beginning to bloom, and that means butterflies and bugs! I’ve got another favorite spot for this – this one near Crater Lake. It’s a dirt road too, and not a lot of traffic early in the morning. The nice thing is that the milkweed is along the road, so I don’t have to wade through tick-infested grass to get to it.
The butterflies were very cooperative, and though I didn’t have a tripod, I actually managed a couple of fairly clear shots. This great spangled fritillary was much easier to photograph than the monarchs that were everywhere, but would not sit still for a photo.
There were lots of hairstreaks too, often sharing the same flower-heads as the fritillaries and monarchs. The beetle and bug variety was amazing, but I could not seem to get a clear shot of any of them, as I didn’t have a good macro. But my son Rob does, and he came along with me this morning specifically to get some good bug shots. I know he got a really good close-up of a grasshopper, so I’ll share it here when he sends it to me.
The real stars were the outlandish monarch caterpillars. Some of the plants had half-a-dozen caterpillars on them, while others had none (and no visible eggs, either). We are going to keep checking this patch of milkweed, hoping to watch the miraculous change from zebra-worm to butterfly.
There were lots of other good bugs around, but I have no idea what they were, and it made me realize how “rusty” my identification skills had become. When I was a kid and spent every minute out in the field, I knew the names of all the local wildflowers and bugs and butterflies. Now, not so much. I’m still pretty good with the more common wildflowers, and every so often I’ll remember the name of something I see, but clearly I need to refresh my memory. What fun that will be – and a good excuse to get out more. Like I need one. Life is good.