Thursday, February 17, 2011

baby monarch arrives while basil wafts my way

(no, not the British queen...)
On the 8th Feb, I posted pix from the garden including a visiting Monarch butterfly (above). Well it must have been a girl (laying an egg below)

... her efforts worked... because tonight we spotted a baby Monarch caterpillar happily munching away:
My nature friendly husband brought home these 2 little plants a few weeks ago - specifically for Monarchs so it appears to have worked. I've been told bees or wasps (birds too?) might eat these types of caterpillars, but I'll keep an eye out for the next stage (pupa). At least I have a photo. Weird how caterpillars turn into butterflies or moths... fascinating stuff.

If my husband or I see a weird bug, insect, spider, bird or mammal in our yard, we always react the same. "Hey honey, get the camera!" and the other person understands something interesting in nature is needing to be documented for our amusement.

The little caterpillar? No, not important - just a wee science experiment in the backyard. I love all things science so guess I'm easily amused. (& a nice break from worrying about American politics)

Before I spotted the interesting looking yellow and black little dude, I was collecting garden Basil leaves to make pesto. I snipped off some flowers on my Basil plants - WOW soooo pungent! (of course I made hubby smell a sprig...) What a strong and lovely smell. Perhaps that is why someone way back when (?) decided to try eating it. I have found this online about Basil:

"Native varieties of basil are found throughout Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. It was possibly first cultivated in India, where it has been considered a sacred herb associated with love and faithfulness. Basil plants are sometimes grown in the homes of Hindus to bring the family happiness. A basil leaf buried with a person was considered his passport to heaven.
The word "basil" is derived from the Greek word for "king," a reference to its royal fragrance. Alexander the Great may have brought basil to Greece, where it was once thought scorpions would breed under pots of the growing herb.

Ancient Romans called the herb "basiliscus", a reference to the basilisk, a very fierce and dangerous dragon that could kill a person by looking at him. Eating basil was thought to be a protection from this dragon, as well as a cure for poison. The Romans also connected basil to love and fertility.

The French call it "herbe royale." Medieval Europeans thought it to be a sorcerer's herb.
Basil has an association with the Holy Cross. A Christian legend has it that the True Cross was found under growing basil. According to Father Mark on the blog Vultus Christi (see Resources below), "Basil plants were reputed to have sprung up at the foot of the Cross where fell the Precious Blood of Christ and the tears of the Mother of Sorrows. A sprig of basil was said to have been found growing from the wood of the True Cross."

But to show that basil doesn't play favorites, it is also associated with Erzulie, a voodoo love goddess worshipped in Haiti.

Italians think of basil as a symbol of love. In Romania, if a man accepts a sprig of basil from a woman, they are engaged."

The outdoors and all things nature are just wonderful... Sure keeps me entertained... (p.s. the pesto with pasta, tomatoes and a green, home grown capsicum (pepper) was yum!)