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Our nature preserve - Then and Now
2006-2011

 

The Crooked Garden
Photo Gallery Page 2
These Photo Gallery pictures make their first appearance on the What's New page,
and are moved to the Photo Gallery page when NEW STUFF Happens in the Crooked Garden


12.15.07
Some December 2007 Crooked Garden photo's

A glimpse of the water feature runing through the Crooked Garden

View from the picnic grotto (the big rocks are as close as we can get to a grotto in the garden)

View of the garden pergola from the picnic grotto

Polydamus butterfly landing on the Dutchman Pipe vine

a crooked little path through the garden

A beautiful specimen of the Florida native vine, the Climbing Aster

Dill weed and Parsely, host to the Black Swallowtail

Plants are doing nicely now that the rabbits can't eat the tender leaves.

Newly hatched Polydamus caterpillars

on the flower of the Dutchman Pipe vine.

Polydamus Swallowtail looking to lay eggs on the Dutchman Pipe vine

Tiny lady bugs just hatching from their shells.

These were on a leaf of the Corkey Stem Passion Vine.

Monarch taking nectar from a red Penta

Passion vine flowers

(L) Corkey Stem flower, (R) Passiflora spp.

A bigh difference in flowers, but the Gulf Fritillary, Julia, and Zebra butterflies love them equally.

Sweet Acacia tree in bloom

Notice the Firey Skipper sneaking nectar from the yellow flower?

Thunbergia, Blue Trumpet vine

Planted to create shade in the pergola

 


11.13.07   
The month of November brings lots of Monarch and Queen butterflies to the Crooked garden. Beside the Monarch caterpillars on the Milkweed plants, there are Various "Sulfur" butterfly caterpillars on the Cassia trees too. If you  look closely at the Corky Stem Passion Vine (plant # 69) you will find many Gulf Fritillary caterpillars in various stages of instar (when caterpillars shed their skin).
(Click on the thumbnail images to view a larger image.)

Almost there...

Queen butterfly prepares to land on Porter weed

Cloudless Sulfur larva (caterpillar)

Cloudless Sulfur larva (caterpillar)

Cloudless Sulfur larva (caterpillar)

Long tailed skipper butterfly

Monarch butterfly on Milkweed

Monarch butterfly larva

Oleander moth

Queen butterfly feeding on Milkweed

Queen butterfly feeding on Milkweed

Queen butterfly feeding on Milkweed

Queen butterfly in flight

Queen butterflies mating

Queen butterflies mating

12.09.07

 Four months after their initial visit, The Polydamus Swallowtail Butterflies (Battus polydamus)
are once again making their home in the Crooked Garden
.
 

The Polydamus Swallowtail females are laying their eggs on the Dutchman's Pipevine plants, and many eggs have hatched and the larva (caterpillars) are growing fast.

We originally thought that the eggs were Pipevine Swallowtail eggs,
but then we witnessed and photographed the female Polydamus Swallowtail laying her eggs on the tender vines of the Pipevine, and closer examination of the caterpillars was our final confirmation.

 


  

   

REMEMBER that the HOST plant IS the PLANT that the caterpillar eats in order to begin the total metamorphosis to become a butterfly, and the host plant will come back strong again.
 
The caterpillars in the first photo are only hours old, and the ones in the second photo are less than a day old.
As you can see, they have already grown quite a bit! The Polydamus butterfly lays her eggs in clusters on the most tender new stems of the plant, and the eggs all hatch about the same time. These new tiny caterpillars first eat their egg shells for their initial protein snack. Their next duty (instinct) is to begin devouring their HOST PLANT starting with their nice tender supporting stems.

These butterfly caterpillars will grow to 27,000 times their original size in a few short weeks. A human example would be like this: If a baby weighed 9 pounds at birth, and grew at the same rate as the caterpillar, the baby would weight 243,00 pounds when fully grown. That is a lot of growing, and the caterpillar does it in just a few short weeks.
These caterpillars will "hang out" and feed in groups during the first few instars. They will become more solitary
when they get older, and at that time you will see individual caterpillars all over the vines. The caterpillars skin does not stretch (we humans are lucky that ours does), so it must shed it's skin 5 to 9 times (depending on the species), during this rapid growth period. This shedding is called an instar, and the caterpillar can often look a little different after each one. Notice below how they are still feeding in groups, and the final photo are a couple of caterpillars that are a little older than the others, and look a little different too.
 
Their are Polydamus Swallowtail caterpillars on the Pergola Pipevine too, and the Pipevine trellis near the picnic tables is covered with eggs and caterpillars too.
Look for leaves that are eaten, and the caterpillars won't be far away. Keep checking this website for further detail, or better yet, go to the Crooked Garden and experience these wonders in person.



 


 


 

10.03.07   


Polydamus Swallowtail caterpillar on the Dutchman Pipevine

Hard to believe that these  simple little "worms" can create an elaborate and
amazing structure as depicted in the second photograph.
 
 
This Polydamus caterpillar crawled away from it's Pipevine host plant to create the
chrysalis on the branch of a neighboring Bay Cedar tree. Notice the perfectly aligned
bi-lateral support lines holding the chrysalis in position to look like a leaf, and the leaf veins
and coloring to make the camouflage complete.  Once the caterpillar has completed
the construction of the chrysalis, the caterpillar liquefies and re-arranges it's DNA
in order to produce the organs and mechanics necessary to function as a butterfly.  
 
In 7-8 days the full grown butterfly emerges, pumps abdominal fluid from
it's abdomen to expand it's wings, waits for them to dry, and off it flies
as a complete adult butterfly.  AMAZING!

 

More Crooked Garden Curator Observations (with VIDEO):

10.27.07  This is a follow up to the Polydamus Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillars story that is now located in the Photo Gallery. These photo's below, were taken on August 17, 2007, and are from a more recent cluster of Polydamus Swallowtail butterfly eggs than the photo's above these.
 
Click on the above image to view short video's (wmv.files) of the Polydamus Swallowtail caterpillars osmeteria
extension.

This is a good example of how these 2 inch long "eating machines" can grow to 27,000 time their birth weight in a matter of a couple of weeks.
Notice that many of these huge Polydamus Swallowtail caterpillars have abandoned their leaf eating, and are NOW eating away the Petiole (the base of the Pipevine leaves), and letting the full grown uneaten leaves fall to the ground.
IT IS PRESUMED that feasting on the Petiole and the ends of the plant stems provide more volume of food (and more access to the plants liquid nutrients provided by the natural pumping action of the plant) for each giant bite from these ravenous caterpillars that are nearing their final instar, and will soon be forming a chrysalis.  NOTICE that in both of these above Photo's (two different caterpillars), the caterpillars have just finished eating away the leaf at it's base, and are now focusing on consuming the stem on the plant.
Final observation: the little yellow V shaped object protruding from the head of the caterpillar (in the photo's and video below) are sent horns (osmeteria) located at the back of the head, warning predators to "Back Off" by sending a pungent odor into the air.
(Note: The photographer could not differentiate this caterpillar emitted pungent odor from the unpleasant odor already emitting from the Pipevine itself.)

 

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