I was in a roadside ditch with my little Sony Cybershot, photographing a "mystery" mint for later identification, when a black sedan stopped next to my Prius. I thought maybe I was blocking the road, so I headed back to apologize (and move my car).
I was pleasantly surprised to see my neighbors, Andrea and her son Rocco (the field scientist), in the sedan. She was on her way to take Rocco to "camp" in Pepin, and stopped to say hello.
Rocco said he had something to show me as he hopped out of the back seat, opened the passenger side door and pulled out a green wire mesh bucket.
Look, he said: know what it is?
I'd never seen one before - a Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar.
Rocco's butterfly cage was full of parsley, this swallowtail's larval food. They also eat Queen Anne's Lace, which had been plentiful along the roadsides until the county road department mowed this week.
That caterpillar was a harbinger of what I would see today - lots of butterflies: