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A monarch butterfly caterpillar is munching away on the fresh new buds on a swamp milkweed wildflower (Asclepias incarnata L). This shot was captured near the southern shore of Rose Valley Lake in north central Pennsylvania.
The swamp milkweed can be found throughout central and eastern regions of North America. It grows very well in wet soil, near streams, ponds, lakes and swampy areas. This plant is also called Rose Milkweed, White Indian Hemp (no, not that kind of “hemp”) or Swamp Silkweed.
Blooming begins in late July or early August and the flowers can last until late fall. The buds are edible and fragrant. Many parts of the plant have been used for medicinal purposes. The plant can grow to be quite tall, to about five feet. It attracts many species of spiders, insects, including the monarch butterfly (and its caterpillars, as you can see in the picture). Muskrats especially enjoy eating the roots of this plant.
The photo was taken with a Canon EOS 10D with a Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact-Macro prime lens. The shutter speed was 1/60th sec at f/8. The camera’s ISO was set to 100. A Manfrotto tripod was used with a remote shutter release. No flash was used.
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© 2009 Gene Walls
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Featured in *Wildflowers of North America"