ACHTUNG: if'n bugs make you squeamish, you better sit this one out.
every morning during the summer, part of the morning ritual is going outside to water the plants.
i stepped out the back door, blinking in the sun, pulled the hose from its box and turned on the water.
first the lantana. it has really started to flourish now that the heat is here. since the rains have stopped it has grown like mad.
the next planter over is the butterfly weed. the butterfly weed is the only surviving member from last year's patio plants. it was cold, a lot, and so i moved them into the garage... without any sort of light. the buttercup hung in there until the last freeze and i lost it. the butterfly weed looked pretty bad, but over the summer had shot up new growth and filled its stalks with leaves crowned with little bursts of flowers at the top. i was proud of the butterfly wee...
"what in the blazes?!"
98% of the leaves were gone from the plant.
"i watered you," i said, "i don't..."
leaning in this fellow said.
why, hello there.
ladies and gentlemen, i introduce to you the monarch butterfly caterpillar.
not only is the plant popular with the adult butterflies, adolescent butterflies think it's super cool too!
nom. nom. nom.
these fellars, half a dozen monarch and then again that many of these huge fuzzy dudes, had reduced a thriving, foliage covered plant to mere stalks in a matter of hours. (it was a full plant the morning before.) when i arrived home that evening, the plant was COMPLETELY bare. no flowers. no leaves. no nothing. caterpillars were nowhere to be seen.
thanks yo! --note the monarch caterpillar is upside down.
(i shared this tale with my mother. savvy all things botany, she said the plant would be fine. she's right. it's come roaring back.)
when i go out, i turn on my porch light. i find this greatly simplifies the reentering of my property upon arrival home. most of the time there's a rat tag assortment of small moths, whispy-winged gnatty things, and geckos to eat them.
THIS night, however, would be different. THIS night, the hugest, coolest, moth i've ever seen awaited me.
his wings were as wide as a ship's sails! when he breathed, great plumes of smoke belched forth from his belly...
with his wings closed, he was 3 and half inches across easy. massive. gorgeous. his design is really stark and graphic.
watering the plants--and watering plants does seem to give me an excuse otherwise lost to venture about my yard--in the front yard on saturday, i leaned over the hose box (yes, i have hose boxes in the front and back of my house) and nearly stuck my head into
hello my deary. come for dinner? --see her huge.
"WHOA!" i said.
this, ladies and germs, is a golden orb spider. she's about five inches, from tip to tip. this little lady is not concerned about much. she's tippy-top of the food chain. she's so big, you can see her from the street in front of my house.
we had one of these stake out our back porch when i was a sophomore in high school. she built a web that spanned an entire half of our porch. we would bring her things to eat--well, stun and drain of their life-giving juices--all summer. she was cool.
this golden orb had a bunch of tiny spiders running around her web. i don't know if they are males--guy spiders are teensy, and generally a snack--or if they are her offspring.
yes. i will let her live in my front bed as long as she wants. it'd be criminal to kill her.