Monday, September 28, 2015


The rise of the full moon of Sept. 27, 2015 over our Forestville home. We sat on our long driveway and anticipated one of the great events of the natural world, unlike our ancestors who saw these, than unpredictable, events as an omen of evil.

8:29 pm, The full moon before the earth's shadow passed over it.

8:16 pm, the eclipse had clearly begun.

8:25 pm, about 1/3 of the moon is under the shadow of earth.

8:38 pm, almost half of the full moon is now under earth's shadow.

8:58 pm, the shadow of earth has covered about 3/4 of the full moon.

The total eclipse lasted for a little over an hour.  Our ancestors lived under the night skies, and knew every star.  They knew about full moons, but most had not lived long enough to see very many full  eclipses of the moon.  With no written language to pass on knowledge, rare events like this were viewed with fear.  Understandable.

10:39 pm the moon was well on its way to clearing our of the earth's shadow.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Monarch caterpillar.  On Sept. 2nd we found a big fat Monarch caterpillar.  We put it in large jar with some fresh milkweed.  By the next morning it had already formed a chrysalis.  13 days later we hatched a new Monarch butterfly and photographed the event. (See photos below). Over the years we have been spreading more and more milkweed seeds and it has paid off.  Yesterday I counted at least 15 very fresh looking Monarchs in a short 5 minute hike around our place.  I have also posted a short video of this Monarch on my (Gary Erickson) facebook page.

Monarch chrysalis one day after the caterpillar formed it.

Chrysalis at 13 days.  On the morning of the 13 day we noticed that the chrysalis was getting darker.  By 11:30 am the wings of the Monarch were clearly apparent through the now transparent chrysalis and the butterfly soon emerged.

Monarch less than 1 minute after emerging from the chrysalis.  Note how the wings are still mostly folded.  I was amazed at the speed with which the butterfly left the chrysalis.  It took only a few seconds to emerge and my cameras were not focused correctly to catch that event.

The wings in this photo clearly show that they are not yet fully pumped up with fluid.  This process takes well over an hour.

The wings appeared to be fully pumped up after a little less than two hours.  The Monarch then rested for about another 1/2 hour before beginning to move about.

The Monarch then crawled along the underside of the screen and readied itself for the big escape.

After 2 1/2 hours our new Monarch managed to craw to the top of the screen and fly away.  It will spend a few days gaining energy off our flowers and then head to Mexico for the winter. A true marvel of nature.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Monarch on Stiff Goldenrod.   We have a lot of milkweed and we still have newly hatched Monarch appearing almost daily.

Young Meadowhawk dragonfly on goldenrod.

Meadowhawk dragonfly.  (about 1.5 inches long)

Katydid.  Love the sound of their night chirp which gives them their name.

Sulfur butterfly on Panicled aster.

Crescent butterfly(looks a little old).

Large Milkweed Bug(in middle of pile) surrounded by larva of the same species.

Solider Beetle on Stiff Goldenrod.

Purple Stemmed Aster.  The stem turns purple later.

Paper Wasp on Stiff Goldenrod

Queen Bumblebee with a small male trying to mate with her.

Bee-fly of the sweat bee family on Panicled Aster.

Bee-fly or more correctly a Drone-fly on Stiff Goldenrod.

Found this bat under one of our sun decorations.  It flew away within a few minutes.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Our Monarch Chrysalis is now two days old, and it has deepened its color and developed a nice golden bead set towards that top.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Watched a Monarch Caterpillar turn into the above Chrysalis in less than 2 hours.  It should become a butterfly in 10-14 days.

Giant Swallowtail butterfly.  We only see a few of these come late August and early September. This one is in our domestic flower garden.

Giant Swallowtail butterfly.  This one is a little old and beat up.

Butterfly tree, Lake Louise St. Park, Leroy, Mn.  We saw hundreds of Monarchs still hanging out on the trees about 9 A.M.   Their favorite food is the pollen and nectar of the Blazing Star.  We also found many caterpillars that still need to reach adulthood before their journey to Mexico.  A few more weeks and our Monarchs will all be south,

We saw as many as 60 monarchs on one branch in the early A.M.