Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Milkweed Tussock Moth Pillar in Pictures

The poetry of the earth is never dead. ~John Keats

It rained for half the day yesterday, and I have to say I'm truly grateful. A few of you mentioned that you're having droughts. Of all the things that terrify me about weather patterns, that it top of the list. EVERYTHING requires water, and the lack of it is just horrible. I'll do a rain dance for you all.

It was actually cool enough here yesterday that I wore a fleece cover-up inside (I kept all the windows open -- love me some fresh air). It was in the 60s! It's supposed to be back into the 90s and humid again by the end of the week, but this respite has been wonderful.

In other news, I thought I'd share our Milkweed Tussock Moth Pillar stories, since we appear to have NO swallowtails or monarchs this year. We have an abundance of Tussock Moth pillars -- far more than we've ever had before. If I had to guess, I'd say we have in the neighborhood of 600 babies on our milkweed.

They're like locusts -- they "swarm" and completely destroy the plant. No nibbling on a leaf for them. Nope ... check it out (you can click the pix to make them bigger if you want):

Unlike any other pillar I've seen, these guys thrive in mass numbers until they're almost grown. It's amazing. They apparently weave some kind of webbed "holder" to keep them on the leaf as they consume it and then migrate to the next, starting over again. Here are pix of three of the largest bundles I found... easily a couple hundred in each of these.

I admit to being half tempted to bring some in and raise them, though certainly they don't look like their numbers are waning. However, their pupae overwinter, and that's just a pain.

Still, I'm glad something is eating the milkweed and that it's not going to waste. I'm still terribly sad about not having any monarchs. :-(


You Are a Good Friend

You are reliable and dependable. You can be counted on, through thick and thin.

You are full of common sense and every day wisdom. You are street smart.

You are conscientious and organized. No detail slips past you.

People often say you would make a great therapist. You are an excellent listener, and you never judge.

About 75% right.



Sarita said...

I've been looking forward to your monarch adventure. Sorry you haven't found any. So sad!

Am very glad the heat has broken by you. Here, it's still toasty but not nearly as bad as last week.

Brandy said...

As cute as the tussock's are alone, together they're kind of a creepy eating horde.

Glad to hear you have cooled down a bit there. It's still hot and humid here and will actually get worse next month.

Hope you have a marvelous day!

Maria Zannini said...

Ref: It was in the 60s!

Now you're just torturing me, aren't you?