Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


Hunting for caterpillars

Yesterday afternoon, Chris, Sidney and I went in hunt of a new air mattress for some upcoming camping trips. I was disappointed to find that Fancy Gap Outfitters in Mount Airy (N.C.) had closed. So we eventually made our way back up the mountain and stopped in at Magic Mart (Galax, Va.) where we found not only air mattresses, but cots, tarps and other camping gear. (We only needed and bought the mattress.)

While out and about, Chris insisted on stopping along the way to scope out milkweed for caterpillars, particularly monarch caterpillars. We started out in our backyard. Chris found several monarch caterpillars and, as usual, tons of tussock milkweed moth caterpillars:

Chris in our backyard.

Chris in our backyard.

A tusk (left) and monarch caterpillars on swamp milkweed in our backyard.

A tussock milkweed moth (left) and monarch caterpillars on swamp milkweed in our backyard.

Next up was the Emily B. Taylor Greenway in Mount Airy (N.C.). We didn’t see any caterpillars, though.

Emily B. Taylor Greenway

Emily B. Taylor Greenway. You can faintly see two dragonflies in the upper right of this photo.

Besides goldenrod, these beautiful flowers were in bloom.

Besides goldenrod, these beautiful flowers were in bloom.

Kudzu beetles on the underside of the kudzu leaf.

Kudzu beetles on the underside of the kudzu leaf.

On the way to Galax, we stopped at Devil’s Den (Fancy Gap, Va.), but someone had already mowed the meadow, which is sad. Just a couple of weeks ago this field was full of milkweed and there were lots of monarchs flitting around. Most of the monarch caterpillars won’t emerge from their chrysalis until late October. I wish the preserve would have waited until early November to mow.

Devil's Den Wildlife Preserve, Fancy Gap, Va.

Devil’s Den Wildlife Preserve, Fancy Gap, Va.

We did find this guy at one of the overlooks.

This fella is on a bench at one of the overlooks. I about sat on him.

This fella is on a bench at one of the overlooks. I about sat on him.

Top of caterpillar

Maybe another type of tussock moth caterpillar? Here’s a view of the overlook.

Overlook at Devil's Den.

Overlook at Devil’s Den.

I hope other people are finding tons of caterpillars this year!


Mount Airy’s (N.C.) Emily B. Taylor Greenway

My husband, Chris, often says, “Everybody wants a trail nowadays.” And it seems like that’s true.

Seems like every town is discussing ways to become more walkable and offer passive recreation to residents.

That’s a good thing, in my opinion. I don’t think I ever want to live in a place that doesn’t have miles of trails. I’ve gotten quite spoiled with the wide variety of trails in Southwest Virginia since moving here five years ago.

One of the trails we frequent is the Emily B. Taylor Greenway, located in nearby Mount Airy, N.C. It’s proved useful during the past couple of months since we’re still covered in snow here in Virginia.

This trail is paved, which must contribute to how quickly the snow disappeared on most of the trail, allowing walkers and bikers to take advantage of it during the winter weather. Most of our trails in Hillsville are mulched, dirt or gravel and are still holding onto snow.

Of course, we’ve gotten more snow so that’s most likely the cause. We haven’t seen the grass in our yard, except for a week last month, since before Christmas.

Anyway, back to the greenway. The Emily B. Taylor Greenway is 2 3/8 miles of a paved trail that follows along a creek and U.S. 52 from Worth Street to West Lebanon Street.

Each quarter mile is marked with a granite marker, courtesy of Mount Airy Granite.

Although the photos above are nice areas of the trail, most of the scenery is the highway, industrial buildings and restaurants. And it’s visited by a lot of people. So it’s not that peaceful.

But that doesn’t mean you won’t see wildlife. Below are two pictures I took on a recent walk. On the left is a belted kingfisher and the right is, of course, a white-tailed deer.

Sorry for the quality of the photos. If I had taken Chris’ camera and zoom lens I might have been able to snap closer, clearer and better pictures. Actually, I’m surprised these turned out as well as they did.
We also often see robins, blue birds and sparrows.
Occasionally we’ve seen a heron (I think a great blue). On a walk last year, a friend swore she heard a yellow warbler, which she said is hard to spot and hear because the bird is usually very shy.