This weekend I grabbed an opportunity to go visit my mom. She's quite the gardener so I always enjoy a stroll around her yard. She kept apologizing that this week seemed to not be one with so many blooms but I found her zinnias quite lovely. I can't grow them at my house partly because our yard is so heavily shaded and partly because I have a black thumb of death.
I liked this tall one that stood out from the rest too.
Mom has always been enchanted by butterflies. When Calypso was in kindergarten she had a whole unit on the life cycle of butterflies and told my mom all about it. Then we found a mail order kit where you could raise a certain species from eggs to butterfly and gave it to Mom for Christmas that year. Ever since she has been hooked. Now her garden is full of plants intended to attract butterflies. She has also planted a big section of various types of milkweed for Monarchs. She checks the leaves daily to look for eggs so she can take them inside away from predators and raise them before releasing them. Now she's the one doing demonstrations on the life cycle of butterflies. Anyway, this weekend she had me looking for the eggs too. I found about five including this one. They are smaller than the head of a pin. See it?
When they hatch you need a magnifying glass to see the caterpillar but they grown pretty quickly and Mom keeps them supplied with fresh milkweed leaves. This one was about a half inch long. Eventually, after molting about four times they create the chrysalis (what most folks mistakenly call a cocoon). No pictures of that stage since all the ones Mom has are eggs or caterpillars right now but when you see one you get the idea of what they are called Monarchs. There is a delicate ring of tiny "gold" beads that form a crown on the chrysalis. I hope to get a picture of one later in the summer.
I was lucky enough to catch a Monarch on one of Mom's bushes even though it was quite windy and hard to focus. There were about 3 other species of butterflies on the largest bush but up too high for me to capture with my lens.
There were also a number of these busy visitors too.