I think most everyone is aware of the decreasing Monarch Butterfly population. As far as their caterpillars are concerned, I saw nary a one for the last three or so years and maybe one or two adults total during that time. So when a Facebook friend posted a shot of a four acre meadow in the Fanny Stebbins Wildlife Refuge (part of the Silvio Conte National Wildlife Refuge that stretches along much of the Connecticut River) in Longmeadow, MA, filled with milkweed, I headed down there the next day, Monday, July 10, in hopes of finding a caterpillar amongst all those plants. It was quite wet after a rain and I got soaked to the skin up to my hips and after looking at a few hundred milkweed plants, I decided it was a no show. Just as I turned to leave….BINGO!!!! And just about at eye level although I was so wet that being on my knees would not have got me any wetter. I was quite chuffed, as some of my British friends would say. From here I decided to go for an environmental look since I had the 15mm macro with me.Unfortunately we were looking into the sun which was pretty bright at this point, but my little 12″ reflector helped brighten the larva. I wanted it even larger so got literally 1 inch away and captured what I was looking for.The effect of using a wide-angle macro so close still gives the impression of some distance so you’ll have to take my word for it. I left a very happy boy. On the way home I thought “Wouldn’t it be funny to get home and find one on my own milkweed?” I looked but didn’t see any. Still overjoyed.
Later that evening I did my daily search on the plants out front of the house and…As you can tell from the size of the leaf veins, this guy is tiny…maybe an inch long tops. That crumb on the lower right is evidence that he’s been chowing well. I looked again the next morning and…This is the last I have seen of him or her. I am hoping that the caterpillar dropped down to molt between instars and just hasn’t been where I could find it. They are pretty toxic to birds etc but anything is possible. I hope he or she survives somewhere. As for catching some glimpses…chuffed. 🙂