On Saturday, October 18, while hundreds of visitors were boarding the Stourbridge Line excursion train in Honesdale, a monarch caterpillar (above) explored a sunny milkweed leaf in the town’s municipal parking lot.

And it was lucky to be there. Every two or three weeks during summer, workmen had mowed or pulled up the "weeds" (including milkweed plants) that thrive in a small niche between the parking surface and a towering boundary wall – erected by D&H Canal laborers in the 19th century. The caterpillar’s milkweed leaf was a short hop from the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, where passengers board the excursion train.

For a monarch caterpillar to endure in this region until October 1 is rare. For it to be alive and active on October 18 probably sets a record.

In this case I decided to intervene and to prevent its destruction by a ‘killing frost.’ So I brought home the caterpillar with its remarkably fresh leaf, put them in a small rearing box, and watched a chrysalis form two days later. In November the freshly minted butterfly traveled to North Carolina with friends of mine, and was released with a small identification tag on its right hind wing.

Ed Wesely