They are only about an inch long and well camouflaged among the leaves. I only saw the first one because I was squishing the aphids. Knowing they had to be there, I was able to find a few more.
Aphids, this means WAR!
Caterpillars, so there are eggs, which come from adult butterflies of course. Where have all the adult monarchs been? I've seen exactly one this summer, about 2 weeks ago. Perhaps it's the parent of the caterpillars. And big green or sapphire blue dragonflies are hanging out here this summer - what's that about? We don't have a pond or pool - just a couple of bird baths.
I watched a black swallowtail and a yellow swallowtail butterfly fluttering from bush to bush together and bouncing against each other yesterday. Is it some kind of dispute? Are they friends? Will we have black-and-yellow swallowtails this fall? Could it be just that there are a lot of swallowtails and only a few bushes with flowers to visit right now?
Such is the lot of the nature lover - to be perplexed, intrigued, and mystified on a daily basis by animals and plants going about their lives. We get a glimpse of ephemeral beauty and then it's gone. And sometimes there is the anticipation of beauty to come, deliciously waiting in the future. It's there in the sunflower bud, the blue robin's egg, and a munching striped caterpillar.
Finding Monarch caterpillars after giving up hope is a reminder I've needed that where nature is concerned there is always hope. Nature is so resilient. People throughout the Americas are mobilizing to save the Monarch butterfly. If we give these miraculous insects a chance, we can keep anticipating the beauty of the Monarch migration each year for many generations to come.