sighting a gold finch flitting by and counted 5 monarchs sailing through. The monarchs are headed south, focusing on golden rod and any other rich nectar providing plants, where they can get a quick fix.
As I walked along the path, I spotted several shaggy gold, black and white caterpillars, busy eating and eating away at the milkweed and leaving huge holes in the leaves.
Many of them were positioned under the leaves, too, either hiding from predators or preparing for the next stage and hanging out in groups of two. I bumped into the plant and the caterpillars quickly balled up and just tumbled to the ground, another mechanism to ensure their survival.
They are the Milkweed tussock moth (Euchaetes egle) and they use the chemicals, i.e. cardiac gycosides, from the milkweed to deter bats and other night predators. Their prickly hairs are covered in poisons to insure they are unpalatable to any birds or other curious creatures.
Look at their tiny sucker feet or prolegs, which they use to hang on to the leaves: