It turns out the the butterfly garden attracts more than just butterflies, as these box elder bugs were not at all shy about engaging in the exchange of genetic material right along a public path.
The (possibly) most adventurous of the three granddaughters discovered this cute little spider lurking on the echinacea.
There were not a lot of adult butterflies out at the time of our visit, but they had obviously been in the area. A pipevine arbor was inhabited by a number of these fierce-looking (and toxic) pipevine swallowtail caterpillars. According to the volunteer staffing the butterfly house, sometimes the pipevine hosts so many cats that it is possible to hear them chewing. (Are these little guys the reason why black and orange are the Halloween colors?)
Possibly my favorite butterfly house juveniles, though, were the enormous caterpillars of the cecropia moth. I have never seen one of the adults, not being prone to wandering around outdoors at night, but the cecropia is our largest native moth, with a wingspan roughly the size of a dollar bill. The cats were a good four inches long and as big around as my index finger.
Given the enthusiasm with which these adolescent invertebrates were demolishing maple leaves, I kept my fingers well away from their chewing parts, so you get no size comparison from me.
But aren't they cute? The human teenagers thought so.