Not obsession!

13th August 2021

Last Winter I developed an obsession with what I liked to pretend were ice sculptures.

There’s very little ice around just now, so I’ve found something else to focus my attention.


At the beginning of June, I came upon these….(right)

In two hours, they stripped the above plant to a stalk.

Though the Internet supplied no answer as to their identity, I expected a flurry of winged creatures, but perhaps they mostly ended up in bird tummies.

Some kind of moth, no doubt.

Perhaps this (left) was one of the lucky ones.

Our milkweed was so disappointing last year.

With so many more plants than previously, we’d expected to see lots of the Monarch caterpillars we are asked to encourage as their numbers have fallen so low in recent times. But we didn’t. Which is why I am interested.

The website said to expect the caterpillars in August, so I was delighted to find this precocious chap (right) on July 20th.

It began my daily search which turned up the above furry fellow, that also remained incognito.

My “obsession” began, as I’m afraid you are aware.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve counted things, starting with calories, which I do to this day. In between I counted kilos to compile weights on aircraft and dollars which were never enough…

The last words from my mouth I am certain will be numbers…”why was she always counting?” someone will ask. I even do it in my sleep.

Perhaps numbers are my overall obsession. There are worse things, after all.


On this excessively warm morning, I fought off the mosquitoes to make my first Monarch count and was puzzled to find they had mostly relocated away from the front door plants.

Never-the-less, I was able to find ten, perhaps eleven of my little friends. I may have counted one twice. It gets very muddling.

Then, as I re-entered the bliss of my mosquito-free, heavenly air-conditioned house, I realized why the Monarchs had de-camped.

These pushy chaps had arrived.

Positively rushing about their mission to strip leaves from the milkweed!

Grant was unimpressed when I told him. “I’ve seen hundreds of caterpillars,” he said and went on washing the breakfast dishes while I went to take pictures.

Not much later, Grant went to the post office and when I saw him coming back I went out to intercept him, insisting that he see what I had discovered. All I saw was the sad remaining vein of a leaf.

“Where have they gone?” I wondered.

“Somewhere cooler!” muttered Grant, marching past me into the house.

Sometimes, he’s no fun at all.

Of course, I had to find out, and he wasn’t far wrong.

It was hard to angle the camera from underneath, too low to the ground and too bright the above light.

But you get the idea.

You see all those leaves? Just a part of my milkweed forest.

It’s why counting caterpillars can be so muddling.

On the right is what I believe these particular caterpillars aim to become, tussock moths.

That’s if they don’t roast under that leaf, because I just checked and they appear to be taking a siesta. With the current temperature they ought to be well done by now.

Grant had to take the car to be serviced, so as he left, I scurried out to check on my latest discovery and he looked at me with an evil grin: “obsessing much are we?” he asked.


Anyway, it’s not obsession. It’s just a high level of interest.

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