Thursday, July 21, 2011

Black Swallowtail Eggs

I'm not the only one using the parsley in my vegetable garden.  About five days ago, my son noticed an Eastern Black Swallowtail ( Papilio polyxenes) laying eggs on the parsley.  So as not to accidentally add them to our menu, we clipped off the parsley and eggs. Since then, the 8-10 tiny cream colored pearls have hatched.

This is a close-up of one of the freshly laid eggs.

The eggs became dark when they were ready to hatch.  Compare the darker color of the egg below with the "fresher" one above.

Hatching takes place just 4-8 days after the eggs have been laid on the host plant.  This catepillar had recently emerged and was caught eating the remnants of its egg case.  Look closely and you can see the wispy bits of egg case sticking to the leaf and catepillar.

These first instars are black and oh so tiny - maybe a milimeter or two long.  But they'll grow quickly, I'm sure! 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Caught in the Act

The evidence: Shreds of cocoa fiber from the hanging strawberry basket found on the deck.

The culprit:  A female goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) plucking fibers for her nest.  What a cute mugshot!  She was so intent on gathering materials that she didn't mind me shooting this photo. 

This (mid-July) is prime nesting time for goldfinches.  For a couple of weeks, the males have been zooming after each other.  Their bright color and lively squeaky voices make them one of my favorite backyard visitors.  Hear them at: