Silvery Checkerspot

The Silvery Checkerspot is a fairly common butterfly at Chert Hollow Farm. This one was visiting the clover in the aisles of a vegetable growing area:bio_silvery_checkerspot

The Butterflies and Moths of North America website has more information on this species.

Eastern Comma

Eastern Commas are relatively common at Chert Hollow Farm; this one found its way into the greenhouse, where I photographed it one morning in late May 2014:





American Lady

I found this caterpillar on May 27, 2014 on the ground not far from the chicken shed, brought it back to the house, looked it up in Caterpillars of Eastern North America, and identified it as a American Lady. It reportedly eats Pussytoes, so I fed it some; not surprisingly, there is a sizable stand of these near the location I found the caterpillar. The caterpillar formed its chrysalis after a relatively brief stay in captivity.bio_American_Lady_caterpillar

The adult emerged on June 5: bio_American_Lady_adult

It flew away before I was able to get a photo with its wings open.

Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch is a showy, migratory butterfly that is dependent on milkweed as a larval food source. Unfortunately, populations are in serious decline. We saw fewer adult Monarchs in 2013 than any previous year.bio_monarch_butterfly

Monarch reproduction relies on milkweed, which, as its name implies, is a bit of a weed. However, we tolerate a moderate amount of it growing in our vegetable field because it has showy flowers, attracts adult butterflies, and is a host to Monarch caterpillars (below). Its deep roots plus our no-till methods together mean that milkweed comes back year after year in our fields.bio_monarch_caterpillar

After their larval life stage, Monarchs form a chrysalis, though not necessarily on the milkweed plant itself. One larvae traveled to a nearby Amish Salad tomato plant to pupate. (Clearly, Monarch reproduction is compatible with responsible agriculture.) An observant worker noticed this,  and we brought it indoors to observe. No adult emerged from this particular chrysalis, and we suspect that the chrysalis was parasitized.bio_monarch_chrysalis

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Tiger Swallowtails are common butterflies at Chert Hollow Farm.

This individual made its way into our greenhouse but couldn’t figure out how to get out. So in the cool morning, when it was moving slowly, I took it out of the greenhouse (minimizing contact with the delicate wings) and snapped a few photos.