Sunday, July 28, 2013

Finally Monarchs

A sure sign of hatching success, Monarch caterpillar poop.
I usually see my first Monarch butterfly in the first two weeks of June. It has been a very bad year for them this year and I had given up hope. Then last Saturday the 20th I saw the first one of the year.  On Monday when I was visited by some birders (Sharon and Corey and Linda) I spent more time out on the road and we saw 6, maybe 8, maybe the same ones several times.

I started looking for eggs. None in the garden so I had to expand my search.  I went out to the road and looked.  On Friday the 26th I found some.  I finally figured out that the monarchs are laying eggs but not on the mature plants.  They seem to only be laying eggs on the young milkweed. If it was 8 to 14 inches tall I found eggs.  Nothing high enough to make it comfortable searching.  I have to bend down low to find them.

The tall mature blooming plants had nary an egg on them.  I came in with 10 eggs for sure and two that I was unsure about.  Then I found one more the next day.  So far 7 little caterpillars are hatched.   YAY!
caterpillar and egg.
When I first bring in the eggs I put them in a glad or tupperware container with a lid. Once they hatch they get moved, with their little slice of milkweed, into a larger container. In this case an ice cream pail with a lid of cotton cheese cloth for air to pass through.  I usually have to double it or more to keep the kids inside.

Seven caterpillars in the ice cream pail with some young tender leaves.
When they grow a little more they will get to go into the big popup Caterpillar house.  It is  much more convenient for them and me. Also I can put the milkweed in a covered vase so I don't have the leaves wilting all over the bottom of the case.

As you can imagine this sort of takes over the kitchen counter for a few weeks.  But when they hatch it is so worth it.

Update: First caterpillar changes to a chrysalis 8/11/13
This morning one of the chrysalises was black and I could see the orange wings.  I was pretty sure it would open so I was keeping an eye on it.  Not enough of an eye though.  This is what I saw when I looked at it 30 minutes later.  It must have been opening the last time I looked at it. Maybe I need new glasses.
Update number 2,  8/21/13.  Five to go :-)


Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

When we lived in Tulsa, we'd see the Monarch's ever year on their way down to Mexico. It was a lovely sight.

Sharon Watson said...

Hi Nancy

Looks like the cats are coming along great! I found one egg and a tiny cat a couple days later. The cat did not make it but my egg caterpillar is growing in leaps and bounds.

I was given a clump of Spurge Hawkmoths eggs. Several days ago 77 of the 91 eggs hatched. I am only going to keep a few to raise and release the rest in the horse pasture where there is leafy spurge. Would you like to raise a few?