Posts Tagged ‘Mass Audubon’s Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary’

Monarchs of the SouthCoast

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Monarch Butterflies Feast on Golden Rod for Long Journey

September on the SouthCoast opens a window into the endless, cyclical, multigenerational migration of monarch butterflies from the Great White North to Mexico and back again.  We’re told that it takes two generations each way or four generations for the complete migration cycle.  How fortunate we are to witness one end of this epic flight as monarchs feast on milkweed and golden rod in the coastal fields along Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay.  Today, as we walked the trail at Mass Audubon’s Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Dartmouth, we came across several monarchs sipping golden nectar to garner strength for the long journey ahead.

Monarch Butterfly at Allen’s Pond Wildlife Sanctuary

This same time last season at Demarest Lloyd State Park also in Dartmouth, we happened upon a large flock of monarchs preparing to kick off their migration southward.

Monarchs Preparing for Migration at Demarest Lloyd State Park (2007)

Attack of the Praying Mantis

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Strolling down the beach road off Mass Audubon’s Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, we caught sight of a praying mantis crossing in front of us.  Its sand colored topside with greenish head and wings blended perfectly with the beach sand roadway and we would have missed the critter entirely if it hadn’t been startled by our presence and darted for the dense abutting vegetation.  From the deserted, post-summer look of things along this stretch of Dartmouth beach, the praying mantis prettry much had the road to itself and expected no two-legged or four-wheeled creatures to intrude on its constant hunt for tasty treats among the lush salt marsh vegetation.

Praying Mantis at Allen’s Pond Wildlife Sanctuary

Despite its surprise, the praying mantis tolerated our intrusion … for the moment … as Sue scooped it from the road for a closer inspection.  It settled in her hand, assessed us as no threat, posed a bit for the camera and walked around her palm to assess these goofy humans who had stopped to make its acquaintance.

Meet the Praying Mantis

As the camera came in for a closeup, its patience with our interruption ended … or the praying mantis saw this shiny silver object as a potential tasty meal.  Whatever sparked its interest, the mantis went into full attack mode, first boxing with the camera as though a sparring partner, and then pouncing for the pin like a WWF wrestler.

Praying Mantis Attacks Camera

Once placed back on the ground, the praying mantis went about its business as though we had never existed, finding a perfectly camouflaged stalking spot on the stem of a golden rod, holding itself in seeming suspended animation as the stiff September breeze tossed the leaves to and fro, and waited … for some unsuspecting prey to stumble by or perhaps another pair of foolish humans to amuse and then abuse.