Goodbye for 2022

Our last Monarch for 2022

We successfully raised nine (9) Monarch butterflies this season, leaving us feeling, “Let’s do more in 2023.” Today’s post cover is a portrait of the last. She flew yesterday, September 23rd, forty (40) feet up to the oak tree shading the back yard, lost to us in the leaves.

Her chrysalis is the second from right in the following family photograph.

Here are two videos of our last 2022 Monarch to emerge and the first.

Emergence of a Monarch butterfly from a chrysalis 4K UHD with relaxing music. A caterpillar attached itself with silk to hang by its two rear legs to transform to a green chrysalis. Fourteen days later the chrysalis shell becomes translucent. Inside the chrysalis the Monarch butterfly moves to shed the shell. The released insect’s abdomen pumps fluid, expanding the crumpled wings. The entire process takes twenty minutes, compressed in this video to about six (6) minutes.

A real time film of our first 2022 Monarch Butterfly emerging from the chrysalis, then expanding its wings in 4K UHD with relaxing music. The process takes twenty (20) minutes.

The butterfly emerges from the chrysalis about fourteen (14) days after setting. To the photographer needing to capture the moment a signal is the green, jewel-like chrysalis turns transparent, apparently darkening to reveal the compressed form of the butterfly. It can be hours before the insect breaks free, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr camera is used for this. I set it on a Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber tripod (with ball head), a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L macro lens for optics. The Mark IV has WIFI and HD video capabilities, so I connected the camera to an Apple IPhone 7 using Canon software. Monitoring the transparent chrysalis in real time, I continually reset the video from the IPhone until the butterfly emerged. I used AVS video editor software to produce the film for YouTube publication.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Monarch Ready to Fly

Five wait off stage for their turn to fly.

This Monarch butterfly emerged from the chrysalis a few moments ago. A minimum of two hours is required for the wings to harden before release to the wild.

Five wait off stage for their turn to fly.

Rainy weather forced us to leave her resting a full 24 hours.

Here are two videos of a Monarch release from 2020.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Monarch Caterpillar to Chrysalis II

AKA the sixth moult

In my last series of “Monarch caterpillar transforming to chrysalis” time lapse photographs, the 30-minute time interval missed the moult. For this series, I set the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV to remote from a IPhone 7, tethering me to hanging around the house for an afternoon of waiting for the magic moment of “transformation” (more accurately called “the moult”), thinking through the nature of the moment.

A monarch caterpillar accomplishes seven body transformations shielded from view. Six within its skin: the first five retaining a caterpillar body configuration, the sixth transforming to chrysalis. For all six, an enveloping skin conceals the change. The same holds true for the seventh transformation. The chrysalis remains opaque green with bright gold spots until turning transparent after the transfiguration to butterfly is complete.

The sixth transformation happens when the fifth instar caterpillar, fully sated with milkweed, climbs to a perch, spins silk around a set of prolegs, affixing them from a horizontal surface from which to hang. For this set I captured the moult of two monarchs hanging side by side inside a mesh cage with an east facing window for light. Even though the day was sunny, with the f-stop set to the lens maximum (32) for the deepest field of view, ISO at 32,000 the energetic skin shedding movements of the chrysalis cause blurring.

For 10-12 hours of profound bodily configuration changes the hanging caterpillar hangs without movement. In the last image of this first set, the next caterpillar is blurred by initial moult movement.

My attempt to capture a video of the moult was frustrated by inadequate lighting, the result was too dark to use. I must solve this technical challenge as the motions of the chrysalis as difficult to believe without visual proof. That said, here is the second moult with the first completed moult in background.

An interesting fact is the caterpillar uses silk to attach the skin to a substrate for the first five moults to hold the skin back while it crawls out of the discarded skin. The first meal of the hatched caterpillar (first instar) is the egg, the shed skin is the first meal for instars 2 – 4. The shed skin of instar 5 drops from the chrysalis. This is why you should never remove a Monarch caterpillar from the leaf, as in doing so may hinder a moult in progress.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Monarch Emergence

Our Third Monarch this year

Clinging to my sleeve, this newly emerged Monarch wings dried. It is a process of excreting the fluids pumped into wings, crumpled from folding within the chrysalis, to expand them. The clear drips of water on my arm are this fluid.

Click photograph for a larger view and use Ctrl-x to zoom in closer.

Here is a video from this year, a Monarch emerging from the chrysalis, then expanding crumpled wings. Notice, this butterfly has a problem: once emerged the butterfly swings back and forth continually as it clings to the chrysalis. While interesting to us, the movement is caused from a missing front leg. Monarch butterflies have four legs, this butterfly is missing the right front leg, the imbalance causes the swinging movement. Freshly emerged, a large, distended with fluid abdomen is prominent between small, crumpled wings. With time, the abdomen pumps fluid, expanding the wings. Over several hours the fluid runs from the wings and is expelled from the abdomen, as seen in the above photograph.

Click me for better experience viewing the following video. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page. Note the replay icon (an arrow circling counter-clockwise.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Mass Bloom

“Princess of the Night” one evening

Our Night Blooming Cereus produced to date fifteen (15) flowers this spring and summer. These opened July 26th after sunset.

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These were captured with the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr with a 50mm f/1.4 lens on a Manfrotto tripod. In the following closeup from the lower right is visible a flower bud and spent bloom among the flowers.

Click me for another Cereus Post.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Herbaceous Peony 50 mm

Tree Peony

Peony species (scientific name Paeonia lactiflora) with plants that die back in cold weather to regrow each spring from a tuberous root are called “herbaceous,” from the latin word for grassy. The stems and branches remain soft and pliable, some stiff enough to hold the large, showy flowers. The first varieties introduced to Europe and named 1753 were white, “lactiflora” mean milk-white flower.

Reviewing my photography in preparation for this post I discovered not a single one for herbaceous peony, such was my interest in the woody varieties my in-laws planted around the property. Fortunately, they did not neglect the herbaceous varieties featured here.

These photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens with a “BeFree” Manfrotto tripod with ball head. f-stop was tamped down to the maximum, f16 for this lens. Exposures were taken when the intermittent morning breeze abated.

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Paeonia lactiflora, in the family Paeoniaceae, contains around 30 species in Europe, across Asia and in western North America growing wild in scrub and woods, often in rocky places or on cliffs. Most species in Eastern Europe, others in the Caucasus, central Asia, the Himalayas, and Japan, mainly on limestone, and a species in dry parts of California.

Peonies have long been cultivated for their spectactular flowers as well as for their medicinal preoperties, particularily in China

Reference:  “The Botanical Garden” by Phillips and Rix, Volume I (2002, Firefly Books, Buffalo, New York and Willowdale, Ontario

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Peppermint Drops

Left for us by Pam’s Father

Pam’s father planted this rose on the east side where it is warmed wintertime by several hours of morning light when the sun is out. Extra attention is needed for watering as the roots are under a bay window and an awning.

It is a miniature rose, the blooms about 1.5 inch across, this and the irregular red and white coloring reminds me of peppermint candies, so we call it our peppermint rose (not to be confused with the “Peppermint Rose” branded doll). The descent from wild rose is clear in the simplicity of the form. The number of flower petals identify it as a hybrid “modern rose: there are many more than five (5) petals of the wild rose.

These photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens with a “BeFree” Manfrotto tripod with ball head. f-stop was tamped down to the maximum, f16 for this lens. In spite of the light intermittent breezes I chose ISO 200. The combination of f-stop and low ISO resulted in a longer exposure that I worked around by waiting for the blooms to settle down between the breezes.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Betty Boop

A cartoon come to life

These Floribunda, semi-double petaled blooms were captured along with the yellow double cluster roses of the previous post, in the evening shade of a late spring day, June 23rd.

Above is a mix of just opened (the dark red, center bottom), fully opened new (just to right of center) and aging (all the rest).

Throughout this set I used the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr with the EF 50 mm f/1.2L USM stabilized with a Manfrotto 468MG tripod with Hydrostatic Ball Head.

Floribundas, sometimes called cluster flowered roses, originated with Poulsen’s nursery in Denmark from crossed with Hybrid Teas with Polyantha Roses, themselves crosses between dwarf Chinas and a dwarf, repeat-flowering form of R. multiflora. Texas-based rose hybridizer Tom Carruth released Betty Boop in 1999, naming it after a cartoon character from the 1930’s. Pam found this plant around 2008 offered by the K-mart store in Cortland. She is amazed by the beauty of the Betty Boops.

Another beloved characteristic is the longevity of the blooms. Pam collected and arranged this vase last week, for Father’s Day. I provided the setting. In this controlled environment the low ISO provides better colors and contrast with minimal digital noise.

References

“The Botanical Garden” Vol 1, Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix, Firefly Books, Buffalo, N.Y. 2002 pp 228 – 233.

Wikipedia search for “Betty Boop rose” and ” Tom Carruth rose.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Lemon Yellow

With us since ancient times

Enjoyed since ancient times throughout the Middle East and China, our European roses were cultivated from Chinese introduced in the late 18th Century. One evening this June, unusually quiet with no breeze, Pam asked me to photograph this tall shrub in full bloom. These are protected from grazing deer by a stout fence, six feet tall.

At first it appears the blooms are a mix of colors from lemon yellow to cream.

The variation is an indication of each bloom’s age since opening. At first each opens to a lemon yellow. Here is a combination of opening and tightly closed bud. Throughout this set I used the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr with the EF 50 mm f/1.2L USM stabilized with a Manfrotto 468MG tripod with Hydrostatic Ball Head. The stabilization allowed me to present the following comparison, at right the very fast 50 mm lens allows the opening bud to be highlighted. Left side, the lens diaphragm is somewhat closed and the opening bud, tightly closed and leaves are all seen. The pinnate, serrated leaves have one terminal lobe and two lateral for a set of three. There are fewer thorns than some, but sharp enough to be careful.

Flowers bloom throughout the late spring, summer and fall. Pam stops fertilizing in late summer to allow the plant to harden for our Zone 4b winters. Here you can see the plentiful flower buds, compare the opening to mature flower colors.

References

“The Botanical Garden” Vol 1, Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix, Firefly Books, Buffalo, N.Y. 2002 pp 228 – 233

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Woody Peony 50 mm handheld

Tree Peony

See my previous May Woody Peony postings for background on this peony variety.

These photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr and the Canon EF 50mm f/1,2L USM lens. I opted for handheld exposures; the morning was absolutely still.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills