Wandering through the garden early this morning, checking the status of some recently planted plants, my eye was caught by something colorful against the green stem of a milkweed plant.
No, it wasn't the Monarch caterpillar that I've been hoping might turn up, but it was the next best thing - a Queen caterpillar. As you can see, they are marked very similarly to the Monarchs, even as the butterflies themselves are, but the Queen caterpillar has three matched sets of fleshy tentacles protruding from the body.
You can see those tentacles - and their shadows - even more clearly in this shot of one of the caterpillars that had crawled off the milkweed and onto the nearby fence. Most likely looking for a likely resting spot for a chrysalis.
I'll keep hoping that one of my early morning walks around the garden will turn up Monarch larvae someday soon, but, in the meantime, these beautiful future Queens made my day.
The Monarch migration continues. You can report your sightings, as I reported my first sighting of the fall last week, at Journey South. Be a part of this important Citizen Science project.