Observe your surroundings


A few years ago a splurged and bought a Passion Flower vine.  It was the most expensive plant I had ever purchased.

Soon after planting the vine, I noticed caterpillars were eating my prized vine.  Simple solution—I threw the caterpillars onto a nearby spider web for a ‘pet’ spider to eat.

I decided to research the vine and learned the caterpillars are my friends.  It turns out they only eat the Passion Flower vine—and they eventually turn into pretty orange butterflies—known as the Gulf Fritillary butterfly.  I don’t end up with just a couple butterflies every year.  I end up with dozens!  So I decided to stop feeding them to the spider.

This series chronicles the different stages of the caterpillar until it becomes a butterfly. 

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Tiny caterpillar on Passion Flower vine. 
Date:  October 2009
Camera:  Sony DSC-H2

Big Bertha's Adventures

Larger version of caterpillar eating Passion Flower vine. 
Date:  September 2009
Camera:  Sony DSC-H2

Big Bertha's Adventures

Caterpillar and its droppings on Passion Flower vine.  I think the droppings add a nice touch to the photo.
Date:  September 2009
Camera:  Big Bertha (Canon EOS 5D Mark II)

Big Bertha's Adventures

The caterpillars end up in random spots throughout the backyard—far away from the Passion Flower vine.  They are preparing for the next stage of their lives.

This caterpillar ended up on my patio chair. In the background you can see its droppings—yet another nice touch to the photo. 
Date:  September 2009
Camera:  Sony DSC-H2

Big Bertha's Adventures

Caterpillar hanging out on a hook for my patio umbrella.
Date:  October 2009
Camera:  Sony DSC-H2

Big Bertha's Adventures

Another caterpillar on a patio chair preparing to become a chrysalis.
Date:  September 2009
Camera:  Sony DSC-H2

Big Bertha's Adventures

This caterpillar is now a chrysalis.
Date:  September 2009
Camera:  Sony DSC-H2

Big Bertha's Adventures

Another example of a chrysalis.
Date:  September 2009
Camera:  Sony DSC-H2

Big Bertha's Adventures

Welcome Butterfly!
I was super lucky one morning when I went outside and spotted a butterfly emerging from the chrysalis.  This is one of my proudest accomplishments in photography. I did some research and the spot on the concrete is excess fluid that is released as the butterfly emerges.
Date:  September 2009
Camera:  Big Bertha (Canon EOS 5D Mark II)

Big Bertha's Adventures

Here’s the Gulf Fritillary on a Passion Flower.
Date:  September 2009
Camera:  Big Bertha (Canon EOS 5D Mark II)

Big Bertha's Adventures

Bee on a Passion Flower.  You can see the pollen on its body.
Date:  September 2009
Camera:  Big Bertha (Canon EOS 5D Mark II)

Big Bertha's Adventures

A couple of Gulf Fritillaries on my window screen. 
Date:  October 2009
Camera:  Sony DSC-H2

Big Bertha's Adventures

Passion Flower Vine in the Studio
As I was going through my photos I noticed I don’t have many shots of the Passion Flower vine.  It was too sunny outside for a good shot—so I cut a piece of the vine and took it into my studio.  I enjoyed the scent of the flower as I set up the shot—yet another perk of having a Passion Flower vine in the garden.
Date:  September 2013
Camera:  Canon G11
Big Bertha's Adventures

Tips

Observe your environment—especially nature.  In my earlier days, I’d spend a big portion of my time in my backyard.  I loved to garden and I quickly discovered a microcosm I could capture with the camera if I was patient and observant enough to try.  There are so many little details you can spot—and chronicle with your camera.  Give it a try.

Position yourself and the camera.  You may have to get down on your knees to capture the details.  At times I will lie flat on my stomach, propped up with my elbows just to capture an interesting detail—whether it’s a caterpillar, a spider, ant, etc.  Taking this approach also provides a more interesting perspective.

Try to organize your photos!  I had to do a little digging to put this piece together—it would have been a lot easier if I had tagged them.

 

The Passion Flower Vine that Keeps on Giving:  Don’t buy one.  I’ll give you some of mine!  I don’t think it’s possible to kill the vine and I’m certain if given the opportunity this vine would take over the planet.  It has taken over my backyard and lawn and has spread to the neighbors’ yards to the right, left and directly behind my backyard.  But it is pretty, fragrant and attracts butterflies.  So it’s a trade-off.

4 thoughts on “Observe your surroundings

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