Category Archives: Monarch Migration

The Amazing Monarch: A Movie

Shot mostly in our backyard, here’s a little movie about the amazing Monarch Butterfly, why you should care, and what you can do save it from extinction.

Photos: Charles V Takes A Trek

Caught this late-season Monarch caterpillar as he wandered along our retaining wall,  into the brush, making his pilgrimage to his final transformation…Of course Sian named him “Charles”.

SDAT_120614-30For reasons no one really knows, Monarch caterpillars often travel fairly vast distances away from the milkweed to pupate. Charles here was about 10 feet from the milkweed plant he had been feeding and living on.

SDAT_120614-37Late season Monarch caterpillars are often darker than their summer kin. The increased width of the black bands allows them to absorb more heat as days get colder and shorter.

SDAT_120614-70This Charles survived last week’s storm and dips into the 40’s, but  his journey is just getting started. Later, Charles.

Welcome to The Jungle…Hard Lessons From a Small Garden

Seth Brundle: You have to leave now, and never come back here. Have you ever heard of insect politics? Neither have I. Insects… don’t have politics. They’re very… brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can’t trust the insect. I’d like to become the first… insect politician. Y’see, I’d like to, but… I’m afraid, uh…

Ronnie: I don’t know what you’re trying to say.

Seth Brundle: I’m saying… I’m saying I – I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over… and the insect is awake.

Ronnie: No. no, Seth…

Seth Brundle: I’m saying… I’ll hurt you if you stay.

– The Fly (1986, Dir. David Cronenberg)

When we bought our house , our yard was a sloppy rectangle of dead pomegranate trees, dried earth and a riddle of busted pipes.  Sian was 6 months pregnant, so the priority was that which lay under the new roof, but my heart was focused on the yard. I was, my wife might say, obsessed. Well, I had a dream. I dreamed of creating a magical, urban jungle that my daughter could get lost in, critters would flock (or crawl) to, and friends would wander, drinks in hand,  fully inspired. I dreamed of creating a habitat that would be boldly in-sync with the great Mediterranean Chaparral ecosystem that surrounds Los Angeles, and be a model for bridging man and nature in the 21st Century. Ten months later, I’m not even close. Nature, it turns out, has no regard for my wants. Continue reading Welcome to The Jungle…Hard Lessons From a Small Garden

Sympathy For The Devil- Lady Mantis In The Garden

SDAT_102914-61
Female Mantis on Mexican Honeysuckle (David Newsom Photography, All Rights Reserved)

A little while back, I wrote about the decimation of the Monarch butterfly population in my garden at the hands of a Chinese Mantis.  Well, behold the lady in question, all three inches of her. With huge spiked claws 1/3 her body length and wide-set eyes with a binocular field of vision, this non-native, invasive lady is built to kill.

SDAT_102914-54-2
Detail- Female Mantis on Mexican Honeysuckle (David Newsom Photography, All Rights Reserved)

And so, as much as I hate her for her impact on the already struggling Monarch migration, I must admit, she’s terrifyingly cool to stare at…especially given the hair raising way she stares back.