Sunday, October 23, 2016

Rearing Monarch butterfles, preparing for next year and tatting

Tagging the butterflies is one of the things I want to get involved with next spring. Here I am sharing with you someone who has done it and explains it quite well.

This is a great web page  I have newly discovered about Monarchs. A place to get wonderful information.

Another thing I would like to do is to get certified as having a Way Station. This is creating a safe place to feed monarchs and help them to get to there next destination in their long migration.

I am well on my way on with the butterfly garden I have started. With only 6 milkweed plants, a few nectar plants and a butterfly bush I was able to release 12 Monarchs this fall. So looking forward to spring...when the 'children' return as they are migrating North.

One more pic I wanted to share with...a poem by Lynn R.

In the meantime I am still tatting. Here is one of two doily's I am making for a friend. Both alike to go on her end tables. The pattern is the first 7 rows of Renulek's Spring 2016 doily. I used sized 10 thread and it measures about 12 inches in diameter, perfect for my project.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The last 2 Monarch Butterflies for Fall 2016

 So here it is Friday October 7, 2016 8 AM. I kept them really close by to watch the emerging process without incidents. Like falling or unable to properly come out. If they do fall, one needs to get them off the flat surface as soon as possible so the wings are not damaged. A Q-Tip is good to have handy so it can grab a hold of it and place in a safe hanging area. Remember, they are wet and wrinkled at this stage.  

                     #11 is doing great, waiting for #12.

So here is a male and female. Just as beautiful and perfect in every way. The wind is blowing and it's rainy, so this pair will have a sleep over.
Saturday October 8, 2016
Time to release these beauties. Bittersweet.
One of my butterfly mentors said to me...
"If you love it, let it go.
If it loves you, it will
come back to you...At least their children do" 
My butterfly garden is saying good-bye, until next spring when we welcome the next generation!
Here are the statistics for my first time rearing Monarchs:
13 total
5 eggs from milkweed
8 caterpillars from milkweed
1 loss
7 female's
5 male's
12 released
My plea to you is to
                   and help the Monarchs to thrive.


Monday, October 17, 2016

Just a little information about the Monarch Butterflies


 Remember this? If you look close enough you can see the wings on the left side of the pic.

                 A beautiful chrysalis with the silk on top.

Above is a magnified view of what is holding the chrysalis to the top of the cages. Below is a detailed view of the chrysalis.
In one of the groups I follow on Facebook, Holli has posted some amazing pics. Thought I'd share with you a little of what I have learned in only 7 weeks. (From time
of my first find of eggs and caterpillars to last butterfly to be released). I am still in awe.

                Now for a little 'sex education'!   LOL
See the 2 dots on the male on each side of his abdomen...those are HIS scent glands. The wings are a little different also.

Tomorrow I will share with you my last two beauties.
But first I leave you with this...

This pic was taken by Amy Cassarnal, in a classroom while doing a study on Monarch's. Perfect! Until next time.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

While butterflies are emerging....Let me introduce you to the newest member of our family

 Lounä Izabella. You have to know I am one proud 'Granna'. My first great-grand daughter! Thank goodness for the internet and all the possibilities that I have to see this adorable child 'daily'. So looking forward to holding day soon. *smile*
October 2, 2016 Meet #7 A pretty little female. Time to let this girl be on her way. All I had to do was open the cage and off she went. She will fly on to Mexico to hibernate for the winter. She is the 4th generation and they live the longest. 4-6 months.

October 3, 2016 Here is #8 and #9. Female and male in the background. They may all look the same, but to me I have seen a multitude of personalities! Amazing. Some have been so eager to fly off, others like to just 'hang around'. Some like to climb on my arms and just sit. Some will just walk towards my hand and wait to be feed. I love these little guys....

                         October 5, 2016 Say hello to #10. It's a girl!
Things are coming to a close. I have only 2 remaining in chrysalis.  I will not cry, I will not cry.
My butterfly garden....I still have a bit of work to do yet this fall. Just planted a lot of milk weed seeds in the back of the planter. Nectar plants which should fill out nicely come time to welcome the butterflies return. 

I have just one more post to share with you. Thank you for leaving such encouraging comments. I did not go into as much detail as I could have for 'teaching purposes'. Perhaps next year I will be able to share my experience locally and others will share my passion for these beautiful butterflies. I just want to spread the word....

Friday, October 14, 2016

6 Monarchs have flown away....6 remain in chrysalis-Early October 2016

 I find this so fascinating. In just 2 weeks this is how much the monarch caterpillars grows! No wonder one needs to supply LOTS of milkweed leaves to these cats.

This is a great pic (NOT MINE) of how the chrysalis emerges from the caterpillar. This process takes about 4 minutes! Amazing transformation. From here the butterfly should eclosed in 10-14 days.

Here is one way to tell the sex of the Monarch.
 Why do I have only 6 chrysalis and but yet 2 cages? Well its because one is in 'time out'! Yes, I did! The one in the cage on the right would NOT leave the other chrysalis alone. It would climb to the top and mess with the web button (which holds the chr on top of the cage) or just want to climb near it. As I said earlier the chr are in a vulnerable stage and could either be knocked down causing it to fall, or touch it enough to deform the butterfly. SO...That is why he is alone in the cage. Took it all day to settle down after roaming around and climb to the top, then finally went into J'ing.

 The second group are stating to eclosed. What a beautiful thing to watch the wings unfold and dry.

Another male...good bye little one. Bon voyage

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Is this not the cutest apron! Late September 2016

One of the ladies on our daily walks said she had 'just the thing' for me. Her mother use to make and sell these aprons. Kathy had this one and thought it would go so well with my 'butterfly garden'. I agree!

And now I give you Monarch #2. This is a male. See the 2 dots on each side of this abdomen? Those are his scent glands. I took all 3 outdoors at the same time. Females #1 and #3 flew right off. This little guy just wasn't ready. Then I notice his proboscis was not quite working. So thanks to Mona Miller and the video highlighted in blue I was able to work with this little guy. After unfurling the proboscis I feed him raw organic honey and water. I put him back in this cage, indoors and kept him overnight.  The next day I offered him more of the homemade nectar. When he drank his fill, he was so ready to head south~and he did. *smile*

                    I  still have more....only the beginning! 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Meet Monarch Butterflies #1, 2 and 3.

# 1 on the left has eclosed and #2 is just starting too! The wings are wet and very wrinkled. It takes a few minutes to 'transform'. Watch this video. It's very cool. Also note the 'proboscis' and how the butterfly will work to curl the 2 tubes into one. That is where it eats from. I will talk about my experience with this a bit later.

     The one in the center is a female. I'll have better pic later.
Out of 6 chrysalis 3 have eclosed. At this stage the wings will dry for 2-3 hours. Weather pending (wind, rain, too cold) they can be released at this time. IF they need to be kept for over 24 hours then I will feed them a nectar of raw organic honey water before sending them off to Mexico.
These little ones only took 9 days to enclosed. Things are looking good. 

While #'s 1-6 are enclosing, I am still feeding caterpillars. The green dot you see on the top pic is from the very fresh seedlings. See the difference in size of the cats? In between each stage they do 'molt'. The cats will sleep about 12 hours or more and shed their skin. They will do this 4-5 times. I like this time, it means they are not eating!  *smile* Until next time! Bye now.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Running out of milkweed! September 17. 2016

One foggy morning, I was looking out the window at my poor Tropical milkweed. (one of 6 mw plants). Wondering how I was going to feed the six caterpillars I had remaining. Only a few leaves remain on this one. Then I notice a hummingbird sitting on the upper left side of the 'tomato cage'. That, for some reason friends gave me hope.

Remember me putting out a plea in our area for MILKWEED leaves? Since milkweed is a host plant to Monarchs caterpillars, they were eating me out of plants! Three awesome ladies were eager to share. This is Tropical milkweeds. Some do not like to plant for varies reasons. Plus its an annual.

I was gifted all these seedlings. Not sure what I will do with them over winter...that remains to be seen. Perhaps a hot-house for Christmas?  *smile* These seedlings and other leaves collected got me through.


Things are starting to happen! September 17th I had 6 hanging chrysalis. NOW on September 25th...see how dark?? Four of six chrysalis are turning transparent, giving it a dark effect. What you are seeing is the monarch!

See the wings!? I was beyond thrilled. This process takes about 24 hours for the chrysalis to change from green to this. At this stage, things happen pretty quickly.


Next time I will show you what happens!  *smile*


Friday, October 7, 2016

Back tracking a bit on rearing Monarchs

I found this pic of Monarch eggs. See how tiny. Usually she will lay one egg pre leaf, some 400 or more.

    Just a bit over two weeks now that this caterpillar has eaten his fill, (where he has grown 2000 times) he is doing what is referred to as 'Jing'. Looks like the letter J. He crawls to the top of the cage and hangs in this position for perhaps 24 hours or so. Note the tiny white dot from his rear. That is where he has spun silk to hole him in place. Unfortunately this one has problems. That green stain is NOT good. It took me a while to get the info that was needed to see that this guy was not 'healthy'. He did not 'make it' and I was indeed sad. Being my first time, I was learning so much!
    In the mean time I was on a hunt for milkweed leaves! I have 6 plants and was becoming a bit nervous about NOT having enough leaves to feed the cats I still had. Thank goodness for Facebook.  I found a local gardening group and 3 wonderful ladies provided me with a supply of 'back up' leaves if I needed it. Yes, I did take them up on the offers a few times.

From the J'ing stage 24 hours has passed and it changes into The Chrysalis. The video is in fast forward mode but the process take less then 4 minutes!! I did a video with my phone but the in the link above is much better. I had always thought the butterfly makes a cocoon. Some do I suppose but the Monarch is amazing. This green thing, about an inch or so long is inside of the caterpillar. Watch the video. Its amazing to watch.

Because I had one sick, I need to take every precaution to keep the others healthy. That meant as soon as possible, I need to move 6 chrysalis' into another cage. How? Again thank goodness for a Facebook butterfly page I am on and YouTube where I found another video showing me how. Because I had a few that were in J'ing and could NOT be moved, I must wait at least 24 hours after they changed to the chrysalis for it to harden. It is very vulnerable at this point. Soft and wet. So I waited.
What a magical moment to hold this precious jewel in my hand! A beautiful jade color with gold dots. Amazing and yes, I was in awe. If you look close enough, you can see the outlines of the wings on the left side. Here I carefully removed the 6 chrysalis into another cage. I have a long straight pin in the center on the silk where I attached it to the mesh roof of the butterfly cage. All labeled with dates and order in which they 'changed' and the expected Eclosed date. (the date to emerge) This process takes 10-14 days. Now I wait. The good thing here....they are NOT eating!!  LOL

Now to clean and disinfect the cage I just removed them from and to get it ready for the next batch of caterpillar's!! 

Bye for now, until next time.  

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Hungry, hungry caterpillars~

 The Very Hungry Caterpillar children's book by Eric Carle takes on a whole new meaning. And to think, I owned and operated an 'in home' childcare and preschool for 10 years and never reared MONARCHS! SMH (shaking my head)     
   These little guys are getting so heavy that the floral tubes can no longer support their weight. PLUS they are eating so much that one or two leaves are just not enough. Well, not without feeling every couple of hours. I am getting up at 5:30 AM, my usual time and with a flashlight going outdoors to retrieve leaves!  In the above pic, I am now cutting stems off the tops of the milkweed plant at this point.

Also, I have run a way! Okay, perhaps 'escaping' is a better word. Here is my emergency pop up laundry basket. Boy did it come in handy. I came home to find my 'head count' was missing 2 out of 7! Even had DH hunting the near by area for them. Yes, they were found. Just looking for food. This one has a netting on top held by clothes pins to keep from escaping. Oh, did I mention yet they are in the dinning
   Yea!! My on-line order of 2 butterfly cages came in. In the nick of time too. In the pic above the new cage is at the bottom Notice it has a zipper.  The zipper can create danger for these little guys! One needs to peek inside to make sure a cat is NOT roaming around on the zipper and you accidently have become a murderer! OMG That would be horrible!

Another thing about cats, they don't see very well. They can mistake a smaller one for food. NOT GOOD. So that is why they are divided in cages according to size. The pic above is more for demonstration. They will return to different cages. If I remember correctly I have 13 cats at this point.  The caterpillar goes through 5 stages. Each stage sheds its skin and at this point they rest. Won't eat or move for a day or so. When they 'wake up' look out. Bring on the food! 

OH NO....they are now eating me out of plants! HELP...

...until next time. Bye now.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Preparing for a 60 mile bicycle ride and first caterpillars...August/September 2016 now we have the lumber but DH is not feeling well. So therefore the beautiful cedar lumber for the raised flowerbed sits. No worries. I'm out most days riding my bicycle. Preparing for an event called Square 2 Square. A few of us did it in the Spring time. So fun. The bike ride is 30 miles, on the Razorback Greenway Trail. Started in Fayetteville AR and ended in Bentonville AR. Full day event. But this time I challenged myself and did Sq. 2 Sq. 2 Sq. Started this time in Bentonville, rode to Fayetteville and back again. Total was a 70 mile ride. Took me all day! I Even surpassed my own challenge by 10 miles! I DID IT!

 In the meantime I was raising my first Monarch caterpillars. September 5, 2016 was the first time I discovered stage one instar. This little guy is less the 1/8 inches in length. The pic is magnified 4 times! I thought I was seeing eggs, but not sure. They are tiny white dots about the size of a pencil point.
OHHH no!! I am NOT ready. So I set out to order butterfly cages online but for now it was recommend I go to Wal-Mart and get a pop up mesh laundry basket. Perfect! I will need this a bit later. I also collected eggs to attempt to hatch indoors. 

Finding more caterpillars each day. Here you see the blue lid container which is home to eggs. The egg remains on the leaf I found it on, cut around the egg then placed on top of a fresh CLEAN and WASHED leaf. That is placed on a moist paper towel and placed in the blue lid container. Opening daily to make sure its still moist gives enough oxygen for the eggs, which should hatch in about 4 days. The 18 count egg container and red lid container is holding floral tubes (bought from a local Nursery and Floral shop) filled with water and milkweed(s) leaves  Caterpillars are on them. A napkin is placed to catch the poop (frass) and boy do they poop and eat and eat and eat!
        Is this not the cutest thing ever....said the butterfly crazy lady!  *smile*


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Picking up lumber for the raised butterfly garden-August 2016

A nice drive to the lumber yard in Mulberry Arkansas. A nice rainy day with about a 3 hour drive to and from.

     This cedar was loaded in the back of the truck. Oooooo it smelled so good!

                                                            ONE lane bridge.

                                Here is the Bobby Hopper Tunnel going in (north bound)...

                                                           ....coming out.