Saturday, September 16, 2017

Boy, am I behind on Monarch updates!

A lot has happened in the past few day. At this point I have released 26 butterflies and perhaps another 4 today.

I am finding caterpillars in my butterfly garden and leaving them...then I found these guys in chrysalis stage and had to bring them in.
I have 4, in their very own cage indoor. I hated to think of them being so vulnerable out there for at least 9-14 days. Again, I am way behind but I will journal tomorrow. Today is a 30 mile bicycle ride that I had to prepare for but I will let you know 'the rest of the story',

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


...was very exciting around here.
Woke up to find a 'dark' chrysalis! That's a good thing. Here, you can see the wings.
I was getting ready to blog about it and the next thing I know...
That fast! Look at the wings. Wet and crinkly at this point. I like to watch and be near to be sure it doesn't fall and offer assistance if it does. That would NOT be good.  Giving it some minutes and you have...
In less then 5 hours, she was released. Make it to Mexico, my sweet lady.
This whole miracle took only 23 days from female laying her eggs to this magical moment. Amazing.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Trying something 'New to Me'

I bought this enclosed mosquito hut last year. While watering this morning I always check my milkweed for bugs or Monarch caterpillars. I did find one plant with at least 3 caterpillar on it. Well I remembered I have this and decide to give it a try. Then I found 3 more plants with caterpillars. I added bricks on each end. Just in case the wind comes up. I will keep and eye out for too much sun, its right at my view when looking outdoors.

Here is a closer view. Why am I doing this you may wonder. To help the caterpillars have a better chance of survival. This way IF they haven't been stung by a wasp or bitten by a fly, they will be protected from harm, now until they enclose. Just helping Mother Nature out a bit. *smile*

Remember the chrysalis outdoors...

....this was the first one I found. Under the butterfly garden raised bed. This is at a corner, where I have a little seat.
Here is the second one on a Lantana Plant.
After thinking about it for most of day I decided to bring both of the chrysalis indoors.
 With a little help from my husband I was able to hang the chrysalis on the underside of a piece cheesecloth and placed in a container larger enough to enclose in. For the second one, because of the newly form chrysalis I decided to just bring the whole leaf indoors and place in a small jar. In a day or so, I will move him in a larger area to enclose.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

A few days has gone by...

...and things are going well in my 'Monarch Kingdom'. I've had a few disappointment but I have to concentrate on the positive. Last fall I released 12 Monarch Butterflies and I was soooo excite! With things going the way they are this year, I will have more then doubled. Now that is a good thing.  I don't know if I mentioned it yet but I have found at least 12 caterpillars outdoors in 'Mon Jardin de Papillion'. Here are 4. I've had to let go and let Mother Nature do her thing.

Yesterday I had a 'meeting' at Hobbs State Park, A group is getting together for the 3rd annual Living Forest event. An alternative to a scary to some Halloween. Here is one of MANY costumes....
                        She will also wear black pants. Isn't she gorgeous?!

   This morning while watering my butterfly garden, I came across...

....a chrysalis hanging under the little bench of my garden bed!!! WOW...a 'New to Me' find!   *smile*

Today there are 35 chrysalis and 4 caterpillars indoors. Fingers crossed for the best. Stay tune, soon they should start to enclose.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Rearing Monarch Caterpillar...

...does come with a bit of sadness and heartache. Day before yesterday I had one ooze while changing to a chrysalis. Sadly, it had to be euthanized. The humane way to do this is to put in a plastic bag, place in the refrigerator then placed in the freezer. Leave there for at least 24 hours. I have since learned to add a bit of bleach to the baggie, just in case it was diseased, it will not spread in the 'landfill'. At this point I had 18 changed to chrysalis...odds are not too bad. (trying to make myself feed better)

Yesterday morning when cleaning/feeding smaller caterpillars I came across this little guy.
 The black line was not there when I checked on it last night. After consulting with my awesome Facebook group Raising Butterflies and Moths for Conservation (+ All Pollinators) I was told to isolate immediately. Which I did. Now, I just wait. No one had any clue. Maybe nothing.  I do not wish to pass on 'bad news' but I feel and need to share what I am learn and experiencing. Good and bad.

Now on to a different note....I found this guy on one of my milkweed plants this morning. A definite a 'New to Me' experience. Do you see him? Sitting pretty on a leaf a Gray Tree Frog ~ He was relocated to a better place. Well, one that is not going to supply him smaller caterpillars which I do have outdoors. I decided I can NOT save them all...big sigh. For those, I am letting nature take it's course.  Not easy thing for me, you have to know.

So for yesterday the censes was: 42 total. 26 in chrysalis, 16 caterpillars and ONE egg. Yep, I did. Found one today and brought him in.  *smile*
Things are slowing now because I only have a few to feed/clean up after. The ones in chrysalis can be in that form for 10-14 days. Fingers cross for a good release percentage. Perhaps now I can tat.  *smile*

Monday, September 4, 2017

#6 chrysalis from yesterday...

...has been moved to a better location in cage #1. He was the one on the 'zipper'. It's double secured, for safety reasons.

Yesterday was crazy! The whole day was devoted to these guys. I fed, cleaned, watching the roaming caterpillars and moving them so they would not disturb the already formed chrysalis. Cage #1: Here (on right) you are seeing a top view. Numbered and dated. These cats are the last 2 to change. (in this cage). Total: 12
If you look closely at the middle one can see a bit of 'gold'. Click on the pic for a larger view. So pretty.
Cage #2 called a 'baby cube'. First time using it and wish I had more. They can be found here. SOLD OUT....can you imagine! LOL
This cage has a total of 7. As I was taking the pic, I see this...
 Chrysalis #18 was just changing.
Soooo much activity in cage #3. Total of 17. One chrysalis and the rest caterpillars. These are going to slow down sooner or later and start to 'J'. Hopefully...because I am starting to wear down myself. How do people with 100's do it?!?!  I do have 4 that are to small to join the other. Those are still in the 'nursery' for now.

So this my friends is what our dining room looks like. Well for a little while anyway. Fingers cross that I have a great release rate! Things will slow down. So looking forward to getting out later and have dinner out with my husband. *smile*

Sunday, September 3, 2017 to a good start.

The caterpillar that was in the 'J'ing stage has changed to a chrysalis. At this point it is very, very soft.

Here is a chrysalis from last year. It needed to be moved due to the fact it was TOO close to another chrysalis. You want enough room for the butterfly to spread his wings and dry out. What you see is the chrysalis laying in the palm of my hand. I have a long straight pin going through the silk button from which was made by the caterpillar for hanging purpose. Isn't it beautiful!

This is a caterpillar I found at this mornings feeding/cleaning time....NOT a good location for this guy.

This is from the inside looking out. He is right on the zipper that allows me to open the cage. Luckily this can be an easy fix, in due time. 

What I did here was added a piece of tape to stop the zipper. THEN I marked with orange as a reminder,  me not to force  it open.
After the changes into a chrysalis I will give it 24 hours, then move him to a safer location. Silly guy.
I need to share this with you. Here is one of my 'go to' person  in the Monarch Butterfly world. Tony Gomez has great knowledge and is so very helpful. I love his eBook's. Facebook has some awesome sites and I belong to a few. People with like minds are always so helpful and there when you need them. For that I am truly grateful.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Things are happening... last. One of the 42 caterpillars climbed up to the top of the cage. I notice him at the PM feed feeding/cleaning time. This morning I found him what is referred to as 'J'ing. Looks like a J, right! Takes about 12 hours or of stillness on his part. From here the chrysalis will form. I was so surprise to learn that the chrysalis is INSIDE of the caterpillar. I may not be here to witness it. I will assist with a 4.5 mile guided hike and hanging out with my Northwest Arkansas Master Naturalist until early afternoon. Stay tune! Lots more to come.


Friday, September 1, 2017

Yesterday at Beaver Lake, AR

                                      11 of us on the water today.
Beautiful and some of the leaves are changing already.
We paddle 3 miles and a bit windy but not bad. But now it's time to eat!!
Back to Monarch caterpillar business. Here is a pic to show you how much difference 5 days make! The larger ones are eating and eating~
A year ago today I started getting my first eggs. Today, we are at 42 caterpillars. I release 12 and I was so excite for my first try. I am at my limit and fingers crossed the numbers remain high.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Changing egg cartons...

....I have the floral tubes filled with water keeping the leaves fresh. The tubes are poked in the top of an egg carton. I also place the total number of cats on each containers I have. Well, seems I have a 'runaway Joe'.

Here he is!!! Underneath the egg container! In order to move him I had to entice him/her with FOOD!! It worked....back where he should be. *smile*

I do more then take of caterpillars...I went on a 4.5 mile hike. Getting ready for the 'real guided hike' for this Sat. event.  The Back 40 event.
3 of us are I.D'ing plants and trees! This is an intermediate trail. I am all set with lots of water and PJ has a books to help us, making sure we know one plant/trees from another! 

This was last night. Getting ready for feeding and cleaning time. Takes anywhere between 1-2 hours twice a day. About every 12 hours. Yes, it is so worth it! Wait, you'll see what I mean later in the month!

Last pic because I need to get ready to go kayaking on Beaver Lake, here in AR. But let me tell you what you are looking at. This is a monarch caterpillar molting. It's crawling out of his/her skin as it change from one instar to another. See the little 'cap', that is from his face!  It is a pale yellow now, but it will change colors soon. Stay tune...We are up to 42 cats now, with lots of milkweed to feed these very hungry caterpillars!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Time to move the bigger ones...

...from the 'caterpillar nursery' to this...


 I moved 9 this early AM. They are getting so big at one week old.
Here is one that has just molted. You can see his 'skin' right behind him. Sort of just walks right out of it.
On the right you can see the difference a few days can make in size.
Yesterday was the first time for me to see a female Monarch lay her eggs on the milkweed plants. She was just too fast darting here and there, I wasn't able to get a pic. I was able to 'find' 5 of her eggs. It is best to get they right after they are laid that way a wasp or other insects can do NO harm.
Here you see my set up as it is NOW. I have a total of 9 eggs and 33 caterpillars in various stages. Fingers crossed they all make it. But at least they have a better chance then being out in the 'wild'.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Yes, there is more to my life then Monarch's...

If you care to see a 'better pic', please just click on the picture to bring you up close and personal. LOL 

 Yesterday more then 20 of us kayaked the White River in Arkansas.
Weather was perfect and the water was swift. The area below was so lush with such green, green grass. Love the rain we've have been having.
Today 3 of us hike The Back 40 here in Bella Vista, Ar. This is in preparation for an event that is coming up. Guided 2 and 4 mile hike ID'ing trees, wildflowers and even mushrooms.  
Butterfly Pea (Clitoria mariana). One of the many wildflowers we came across.
Here is my set up now. I did not keep the plant in the mesh container. I put the plant back in the Butterfly Garden and brought the cats in. I need to re-count, but at least 7. And 19 in the little containers. Tomorrow they will be moved also. Getting bigger!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Lots of activity...

This morning by 6 am I have already cleaned, water misted and fed 22 very hungry caterpillars! If all goes well with these cats, I will have already reared double of my released last fall. WOW.
I had a few over night hatch, so tiny compared to the 'older' ones. Amazing. Stay tune for more of the wonders of nature. Here is an example of the different sizes in age: (about a 2 week period)

I going to try something 'New to Me'. I found 3 caterpillars outdoors. They are only first instar (very tiny). I place them all on one milkweed plant, for now. They are outdoors but out of harms way. I'm going kayaking today and they well be fine. I do have a life besides monarch's.  LOL

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

In the blink of an eye...

...I have 14 Monarch caterpillars this early morning. The 'nurseries' have all been cared for (fresh paper towels, more leaves if needed and misted). Now I wait some more. They are so tiny that I use reading glasses and a magnifying glass to see them. This stage is called first instar, they will have 5 before they change into their chrysalis. Just think about this....they will have grown 2000% in size. It would be like us growing to the size bus and in less then 3 weeks!! WOW.

Stay tune for more updates.  *smile* 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

I said I wasn't going to bring anymore indoors....

...well I couldn't help myself. I now have 30 eggs as of 8/21/2017. I check regularly outdoors and the little containers indoors. IF I did miss any eggs outdoors I am checking for very tiny Monarch caterpillars. None, so far.
BUT....this afternoon with much joy I discovered this:

 What the heck are you looking at you might ask. Well, the black tip you see is the head of a cat that has NOT hatched yet (from the first batch of eggs I brought indoors on Saturday! Now remember this is about the size of a pencil tip, and magnified a lot!  I did find 9 out of 10 ready to hatch! So now I prepare for the next step.

I have 9 leaves, wash, dried and placed in floral tubes with filled with water to be ready when the eggs hatch. They will eat the shell then be ready to munch down on leaves. That's when the fun begins. Making sure I have plenty of clean, fresh leaves for them to chow down on.

So for now, this is what my little area looks like. Still a 'dining room' but not for long!   lol