One of the reasons I’m so interested in using native plants in our landscaping is to restore life to our property. The insects that can only live on the native plants are a major part of the food web, bringing in birds which eat these protein morsels and feed them to their young. Like many I've learned that the fall generation of Monarch butterflies migrates to Mexico. I never thought about what other butterflies and insects do during our cold winter months.
|Children Playing in the Leaves|
(photo by Susan Bibler)
Several of the cocoon-wrapped pupas showed signs of emerging but the weather got cold and they didn’t emerge. Candy told me they would overwinter in their cocoons and I should expect them to merge in the spring around Easter time. And on one bright warming spring day, there was a flutter of wings in the cage. They had successful survived that brutally cold winter.
belong) and many other insects, they wrap themselves up in leaves for a good winter’s nap. Take a look at this group of leaves. Only by turning them over and carefully looking would you be able to see the well hidden Polyphemus cocoon. (See a larger photo essay about these stunning moths at https://www.dropbox.com/s/w6bilvu8mx9wi2e/Polyphemus%20Moth%20-%20leaves.pdf?dl=0)
|Polyphemus Cocoons hidden in Leaves|
This year as leaves start to coat my yard, I’m raking them into the garden beds and forgoing shredding. And now that I think about it, it’s a whole lot less work for me. Good for the moths, good for me.