Summer is such a wonderful time for nature observations. Plants are blooming, wildlife is out and about raising young, it really is a magical time. Did you know that you may be missing out on the smallest and well camouflaged creatures by not looking at that odd shaped dead leaf? This happened to me this week. As you may recall last week was National Moth Week and while I did not see a ton of moths I had 4 separate types of native caterpillars in my yard. 2 Species, the Gulf Fritillary and Zebra Longwing, were on some passion flower vine I was given by a friend. As a Journaler and all around nature nerd not only did I get free native plants but they came with insects as well, I was elated! I waited patiently as they ate the vine down to nubs before I moved the plants. I went back to look for any signs of chrysalises but to no avail. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
When I took the plants out of the plastic carrying container to take back to my friend I noticed 3 dead leaves attached to the outside of the container. On closer inspection I realized those were the chrysalises! I have seen many fritillary caterpillars in my life but how many times had I walked past their pupal form? How many times have people trimmed the dead vegetation off of their passion vines or other vegetation and never realized some of those dead leaves weren't really leaves at all? If you don't know by now I am a huge fan of insects. They are the most diverse and interesting of the animal kingdom. Get some native plants and I assure you, you will have a plethora of interesting insects come to visit (also birds who eat the insects). Lastly they are right outside your back door. You can always find insects to observe and journal. If you you would like to see the way I drew this and what questions I asked click my YouTube link below. I have also included a picture in case you want to look and sketch it yourself. After that grab you journal and pencil and get outside! Happy Sketching!