Tag Archives: monarchs

Weekly Photo Challenge: Under

Do you speak in images? Enjoy taking photos to document your experiences or just to express what you notice in the world? Love to share them with others? Welcome to the weekly photo challenge! I post a new challenge each week…check in regularly and join the fun!

The weather is changing around here…finally.  The unusually warm and humid weather of August and September has made way for cooler, crisper mornings and evenings.  It’s still pretty hot, into the 90’s today, but it is much drier.  I’m loving the feelings of fall in the air, but also fearing the risks of fire that this weather brings.  Walking under the dry eucalyptus trees at UCSD I found myself thinking about how these trees can be like matchsticks, igniting easily and spreading flames with the help of Santa Ana winds.

under the eucalyptus

I noticed yesterday that the monarch caterpillars are back in the planter box in front of our classroom.  Milkweed is a magnet for the beautiful orange and black butterflies and if you look closely under the leaves tiny caterpillars emerge from the eggs the butterflies lay.  These guys were tiny yesterday, and today they much bigger and fatter!

under cover

My students are always great subjects for photography, I love their facial expressions, the seriousness of their thinking faces, and even the interesting ways they sit.  I couldn’t resist this shot of the feet tucked under and crossed as he listened in class.

with feet under

My cats also make interesting photography subjects.  When one of my students gave me this cat toy as a gift last week, Jack (one of my 16 year old cats) couldn’t resist playing with it…trapping the dangling object under his paw.  He’s not that much fun to play with these days…he wants to just catch the toy and then hold it rather than tire himself by chasing it around!

Under his paw

Our lawn sprinklers seem to be nothing but trouble lately!  Sometimes they leak, sometimes the overspray, watering the sidewalk, and it seems like my husband is aways digging under the grass to repair them.

underground sprinkler

And while our lawn is suffering from the drought conditions and watering restrictions, mushrooms seem to be thriving.  There seems to be an entire village of mushrooms sprouting up not only on our lawn, but throughout the neighborhood.  They go from tiny to huge in just a couple of days and I love the texture of the underside of these fungi.

under the mushroomSo what do you see when you look under?  Under a tree, a table, under the paw of your pet, under the edge of a cliff?  What is on the underside of your world?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!)

I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #under for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Take a look around and under this week…I can’t wait to see what you find when you look under through your lens!

They’re Back…

Last school year we planted milkweed in the planter box in front of our classroom…and had a front row seat to view the intricacies of the monarch life cycle.

As the school year continued, what was left of the milkweed (after the caterpillars had decimated it) died away and a native volunteer took over the box.

A week or so ago, a classroom mom came by and cleared out our box and replanted milkweed.  And before even an hour had passed, a monarch friend had already visited.  We’ve all been on the lookout for evidence of eggs and caterpillars since.

This week, they made their presence known!  Teeny tiny yellow, green, and black caterpillars have made an appearance and are busily chomping away at the milkweed.


It is amazing just how quickly they grow from almost invisible to the eye, to plump little crawlers.


These are actually much smaller than they appear in the photo thanks to the magic of modern technology and cropping techniques!  But you can see they have been quickly devouring this plant.

And so now we wait.  Will these caterpillars survive long enough to grow to the size where they form a chrysalis and transform into butterflies?  Is there enough milkweed there to sustain them?  What predators will they have to avoid?


These beautiful creatures are fascinating to watch (and photograph), and seem to thrive in our school environment.  I love that we don’t need to buy a butterfly “kit” to have our students learn about the majesty and wonder of the insect world.


I always find that the more I learn about something, the more I appreciate and notice the natural beauty right in front of my eyes!  What critters sit outside your door for you to learn more about?