It's starting to feel a little fallish here in Iowa. The nights have been cooler. The mornings crisp. My jeans have already made their way out of the closet on several occasions. I'm starting to think about planning an apple orchard visit for some fresh, crisp apples, dreaming of the warm apple crisp and cinnamony apple sauce that will soon follow! With fall comes change: the return to school for Lexi, the return of the college students to town, the return to a fuller class schedule for me, and of course...bug metamorphosis.
Cicada shells are a common sighting these days. Yesterday the girls and I discovered one of the trees in our back yard is apparently a favorite spot for shedding your skin.
Large groups of empty shells are scattered throughout the tree...up the trunk, along limbs, on the underside of leaves. I don't think it would take us very long to count to 100 sitting under that tree!
As I was scanning the trunk, imagine my surprise when I realized not ALL the shells had been abandoned. One was just starting to form a crack, giving way to a light green being inside.
Though familiar with empty shells, we've never seen one still occupied. We checked back on our little friend several times throughout the afternoon, watching him make his way out of his shell to spread his new wings.
I was amazed at how quickly his little wings went from small shriveled lumps to papery thin beauties once he freed himself from his old skin. At our last sighting, our little friend had left his shell and had begun a slow climb up the trunk of the tree while his body continued to dry. We lost track of him before he had darkened like one we had found the day before on the trim of the garage, obviously further along in the process when he was discovered.
In addition to the cicadas, our butterfly bush in the front yard has been a hot bed of activity for Monarch caterpillars. Saturday we found this big fat buddy chowing down on a leaf right outside the front door. It was fun to watch him eat his way back and forth across the leaf, so focused on the task at hand he wasn't even phased by my holding of the stem to steady it in the wind while trying to grab this (and about 35 others...most blurry) picture. We now also know that those little black dots on our front porch are caterpillar poop. Fiber in...fiber out.
We haven't been as lucky as some to find a chrysalis yet. We'll keep searching. Surely with as many caterpillars as have fattened themselves up on our bush, at least one with have the courtesy to stick around and give us a little show.