Jane and I had a busy morning in the garden this morning. For the past week we've been seeing an increase in the number of all kinds of butterflies but primarily Gulf Fritillaries, Monarchs, Queens and Viceroys. In my own yard I've seen several yellow swallowtails too.
This morning near the milkweed in the pollinator bed, Jane discovered what we at first thought was a monarch caterpillar, but on closer examination we saw that it had three sets of filaments (those antennae like protuberances on their backs that some incorrectly refer to as tentacles or antennae). The Monarch caterpillar only has two sets of filaments but the Queen has three sets. The poor thing was away from the milkweed on some tall Bermuda grass. Half of one of its filaments was missing. I decided that it should be rescued so I brought it home with me. This is my second caterpillar rescue for 2018. In the spring I rescued a Monarch caterpillar and let it go as a female Monarch butterfly. I'm sure there will be many more to come in addition to tagging adult Monarchs. Last year Loving Garland Green tagged 100 monarchs. This year we ordered 200 tags. Tagging in North Texas begins around Labor Day.
The photo above shows a Monarch caterpillar with its two sets of filaments Photo by Monika Maeckle
Above is a photo I took of the queen caterpillar. He/she is now safely ensconced in a condo with plenty of milkweed leaves to munch on. I will say that the Queen caterpillar does not eat as fast or greedily as the Monarch caterpillar (but you didn't hear that from me.