Thursday, August 3, 2017

Great Monarch Year

We're having hopes of seeing a great harvest this year of butterfly farming! (knock on wood...) Last year, if my memory serves me right, we had like 2 or 3 make it, despite having almost 30 eggs. Ok... just looked back at my blog, and this is why I blog, cause apparently my memory does in fact not serve me well. According to a mid August post last year, I documented that we had 4 make it through the life cycle to fly away as monarchs, but it was almost 5... that last butterfly loss was hard for me and almost made me vow not to get involved again. But the months pass by and my resolve grows weaker. Then summer comes and I get excited when I see the milkweed growing in our yard, and I look for and find eggs, just to see... and then before I know it I'm clipping leaves and bringing them in and we start watching the miracle take place.
"Ooh! Look! A little baby! He's so cute!!"
I'm perfecting the process. I should probably get some mesh cages though. We had 3 run away from the milkweed before they made their silkpads. Two of them have been located and one is still MIA.
They make a lot of frass to clean up. The kids are patient with me and my bugs. Though it bothered my hygiene conscious boys to have caterpillar poop close by in the bathroom where they brush their teeth. I just moved them in the bathroom temporarily on laundry day, I'll get them out of here in a bit..
Although it was easier to find them and count them with the mirror behind helping me see where they were all hiding. I love it when they are big enough to hold too, they are really cute little bugs.
Owen likes to see the bugs.  "A bug!" Little cute bugs. We have had some of them die. This one just slowly dried up, not sure what was wrong, but it looked like he wasn't able to completely molt out of his skin.  
I also found lots of larva that I first thought were tachinid flies that eat monarchs, but after further research I think they are milkweed leaf miner bugs, cause we have lots of leaves that look infected and I found lots of larva in the water around the leaves.
So, as of now, we have 13 that made it to chrysalis! One turned black on day 2 and I think is dead but we're leaving it on there for a bit longer. Today 4 more turned into chrysalis, and we've still got 10 more in their last instar - 3 in j-hook right now and 2 are making their silk pads. Then we have 10 small caterpillars in the bathroom and I found 5 more eggs this morning! One hatched this afternoon. I think this has been a great year for our monarchs! I've found all of these as eggs in our yard except for two which our neighbor (and resident monarch expert!) Lisa gave me when they were going out of town. We are excited to see them come out. They are little miracles.

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