It's been a while since I've posted, but something just happened that was so thrilling that I just wanted to share.
I haven't had much going on in the garden for a while since the trees around us have grown so much that most of my BF plants can't survive or flourish with the dense shade (used to be very sunny, but no more). However, my Passionvine is hanging in there, not flowering anymore but very leafy. A few Gulf Frits still come by occasionally and lay a couple of eggs. That was the case in mid-August, right before we had 4 rounds of aerial spraying for mosquitoes.
The morning of the day that we were scheduled for our first round of spraying, I scoured the vines for caterpillars. I hadn't had many at all this season or last, but I still felt the need to check. Good thing! There were 2 newly hatched babies. They went into "protective custody" straightaway and completed their growth and metamorphosis.
On Sunday, September 23, both of them emerged and flew off to enjoy their lives as adult butterflies. One was perfect, but the other had some imperfections such as pale coloring on the wingtips and a shortened abdomen. But both seemed to be quite vigorous when I got home from church and saw them fluttering about in the habitat. So, perfect and imperfect, they both went off to make their way. Still, I worried for the imperfect one, a male. Would he be all right or would he simply die off?
Today, as I was tidying up the yard, I spotted a Gulf Frit enjoying some nectar on a scraggly, spindly bit of Milkweed. I went over for a closer look, and there he was-- my "pale guy", looking just great with intact wings! I thought at first it was simply one that had "been around" and that's why the color had maybe rubbed off. But no, there was the shortened abdomen! I watched as he enjoyed his nectar. Then he flew up, circled around me a couple of times as if to say hello, then back to his nectar he went.
Eventually, he flew off to another garden (the butterfly tavern?) and moved on.
How good that felt, to know that he was just fine despite his "flaws". I don't know if he could mate, but I'll be happy knowing that even if he couldn't, he's living life as a seemingly happy bachelor. Hey, it works for my brother... so why not? :)
And it's pleasing to know that I was able to protect at least 2 vulnerable critters from an aerial assault with what surely would have been a lethal toxin to them. You know? I haven't seen but 3 other caterpillars on that vine since the spraying... hmmm.