Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Paulie's Quest

I know this is supposed to be a bird blog but sometimes, other creatures make their way in front of my camera lens and into my story line. This week, many of those creatures had wings but no feathers. I found these beauties in The Villages while visiting my mother on her birthday (Happy Birthday Mom). The first is Fiery Skipper. Fiery indeed. Bright orange!

Fiery Skipper
This guy caught my eye with his long tail. Remarkably, the species is Long-tailed Skipper. Go figure.
Long-tailed Skipper
 I didn't even notice that he had a bright green/teal body under those long wings.
Long-tailed Skipper
And then there was this eye catcher. It is a Gulf Fritillary. Zoom in to see the checkered eyeball.

Gulf Fritillary
 Hard to believe that this is the same butterfly seen from the top. Beautiful orange.
Gulf Fritillary
I was feeling pretty good about seeing all of these beautiful butterflies and headed back to my Mom's house where I found her neighbor Paulie there talking about the same thing - butterflies. He invited us to his house to check them out. We found this magnificent Monarch in his garden. There were others too.

Monarch Butterfly
And then we found out why. Seems Paulie has become a nursemaid in his retirement. The porch has incubators where caterpillars turn into butterflies. Here he is with the newest members of his Monarchy.

Close up of the cocoons with the new butterflies. The butterflies come out with shriveled up wings and hang on the cocoon for a few hours before the wings are ready for duty. Paulie lets them out once they are "dry".

New Monarchs
Here is Connie letting one out.
Paulie finds the caterpillars in gardens around the neighborhood and brings them inside where he feeds them milkweed until they form a cocoon, then releases the Monarchs to continue their life cycle. Pretty cool.

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