A caterpillar in danger.

This morning I took a walk with my dogs through Hart’s Woods, and then down the electricity pylons pathway.  There are some phenomenal grasses growing there now, some are more than six feet tall and are in full flower.

Timothy grass is prolific in certain areas here and is easily recognisable by it’s cats-tail flower.

timothy-grass-seed-50-2

My best find this morning was this caterpillar, busy feeding on a milkweed plant.fullsizeoutput_74a

In due course, this little guy will turn into this butterfly, the Monarch,

monarch_in_may

which should not be confused with the much smaller  Viceroy Butterfly

However, right next to the plant the caterpillar was munching, was a huge stand of Dog-Strangling Vines (DSV).  Two weeks ago, I hadn’t noticed these awful plants but thanks to the amount of rain we’ve had recently, they’ve sprouted  and are swamping the strip of land on the Oxbow Woods. Some of it has crossed the path and is growing right up to Old Post Rd properties.

IMG_2068
Dog Strangling Vine growing from path to woods.

I’ve been walking this line for almost eight years and I’ve never noticed these vines before, or the tall grasses, but maybe I just wasn’t looking or so aware. I think The National Grid own this land and they only mow every five or six years, which will do absolutely nothing to curtail the vines. That’s all bad news for the Monarch Butterfly, because it is ‘conned’ by the DSV into laying its eggs on it, thinking it’s milkweed, the caterpillar’s favorite food.   DSV is a member of the Milkweed family, but Monarch eggs cannot survive on this vine.

Here’s an article from Canada, where they also have a problem with the decline of their butterflies.

If taking a manual option, the entire plant – including the root – must be removed within the plant’s first year. After the first year, the roots become more established, stronger and longer, and new plants can grow from root fragments. Herbicides are the more effective, long-lasting solution.

“The only way to treat an invasive species like dog-strangling vine is with an herbicide application,” Petelle points out.

“Spraying while the dog-strangling vine is in flower and then again a month later has proven to be a safe, long-lasting option for controlling the problem. Herbicides kill the entire plant including the roots, allowing native plants to re-establish themselves.”

 

 

Author: Mike Caswell

I live in Fairport, and my home is at The Oxbow section of The Erie Canal. I fish, have a pontoon boat and like messing in boats. (see www.mud-skipper.com). I'm retired and enjoy every day living here with my wife Carol and our two dogs.

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