Return to the Pond, Looking For Caterpillars

July 28, 2014 pond 019

We returned to the pond, nestled along the Colonial Parkway between Williamsburg and Yorktown,  hoping to find evidence of Monarch caterpillars and eggs.

As soon as we arrived it was evident that summer has not been kind to this spot.


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Flowering plants along the edge of the road had been mown.  I hope it was just mowing at least, and not herbicides, which turned this once beautiful area brown and grey.

The Alliums, Daisies, Queen Anne’s Lace, Purple Milk Vetch and Milkweed, so vivid in memory, were gone.


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In their place we found various grasses, a patch of orange flowers, and Milkweed, now going to seed.


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Milkweed plants nearest to the parking area have obviously hosted caterpillars, many of their leaves methodically stripped away.

In fact, we found quite a few caterpillars at their dinner.


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We also found a few spots of eggs.

And while we were happy to find eggs and larvae, these are not the eggs and larvae of Monarchs.


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I haven’t yet been able to identify this caterpillar, and certainly appreciate anyone who is able to name it for us in the comments.


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These caterpillars are drawn to this Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca,  whether the plant lives or not.


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We found perhaps a dozen individual caterpillars while walking around the perimeter of the planting, staying on the mown grassy areas.


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The Milkweed plants further away on the slope didn’t show any obvious signs of chewing, although they continue to set seed for next year’s crop.

And we also didn’t spot any adult butterflies around the pond this evening.


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My partner spotted a turtle, swimming in the pond, as I hunted for caterpillars.   And I enjoyed the company of dragonflies and grasshoppers.

But that was all, late on a late July evening, as shadows grew deeper, and the golden rays of sunset touched the treetops one last time before slipping below the horizon.


July 28, 2014 pond 021

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

A Monarch For Memorial Day

About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

5 responses to “Return to the Pond, Looking For Caterpillars

  1. Love the last photo of the still water – so serene at day’s end.
    No monarchs, but I suppose they’d have been and gone at this point. Maybe you’ll see a few adults in your garden come fall migration (hope, hope). They love asters and JPW.
    The caterpillar you saw is a Milkweed Tussock Moth larva. “This species is sometimes called a Milkweed Tiger moth due to its bright yellow and black markings. As with all tufted insects, the Milkweed displays large tufts of hair that hide sharp spines. Again, this is a variety that is best admired from afar. However, the main danger from this insect is that it feeds on the Milkweed plant, making it poisonous. This natural defense deters predators from eating it.”

    • Thank you so much Eliza- knew I could count on you to correctly identify the caterpillar 😉 We’ll keep watching for Monarchs. My partner spotted several female Tiger swallowtails in the garden today. We keep watching for them….

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