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raise butterflies


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mk81caterpillars ordered

well I bought a habitat from insect lore and ordered my caterpillars. it said it should take from 3-7 business days to get them. I am excited and a bit nervous. 4 years ago


Nancy Todayall done,,,154 butterflies eclosed

The last of the butterflies has eclosed out of the chrysalis. I have lost count, but I think it’s about 154 monarchs now.

I am all done. There are no more eggs, larvae, pupae or live butterflies in my house.

I have a large number of butterfly road kill which I’m going to frame in stained glass. 7 years ago

Nancy Today138 butterflies released in total so far

Thursday, August 02, 2007
8:45 PM

I asked Alida to count the chrysalis remains on the hangers and in the jars and on screens and leaves.

I then added 10 for the ones that appeared from nowhere…I never did figure out where they had come from!

So her total was 128, but then the final total is 138.

I thought we’d only raised about 100. This is quite exciting! 7 years ago

Nancy TodayWhy there were hundreds of dead monarchs on the road between Ottawa and Barrhaven

I have a question now. Why do butterflies gravitate to the highway?
Now, my hypotheses.

1. The pavement is warm and draws them.

2. because the pavement is warm air rises and therefore sucks the air from the fields on either side of the pavement inward toward it.

3. monarchs are generally flowing in one direction. When they arrive at the highway, they have to cross it. However, the traffic moving in one direction, but not filling the road on both sides at once, causes the air currents to swirl behind the stream of traffic. When opposing traffic streams past that stream, it spins the air in the other direction. The result is monarchs can’t fly across the road.

4. the monarchs are attracted to the milkweed along the edge of the road. The air currents pull them away from the attraction and spin them all over above the road until they are inevitably hit by cars.

5. because monarchs are generally flying low, looking for milkweed to lay eggs on or flowers to drink nectar from, they get in the way of the flow of traffic and are hit. 7 years ago

Nancy Todaycollected hundreds of dead monarchs

tuesday, July 31, 2007
3:16 PM

Let me just cogitate on my day so far. I will have to write about the adventure of picking up about a hundred dead monarch butterflies along the roadside, as well as watching helplessly as they flew about above and between heavy traffic while it hit them.

It was devastating. I felt I should be there with a butterfly net catching them and taking them to a safe place.

But instead I spent three hours picking up ones that had already been hit and blown to the shoulders and into the grass. I filled a small cereal box and the book of mormon with them. The ones that were brittle went in the box. The ones that were flexible went between pages in the book which was the only thing I had to press them in.

I also collected the ones that were stunned and put them in a shopping bag to recover and be let out at home.

Later I’ll take all these butterfflies and press them between layers of glass to make stained glass butterflies. I must have dozens of them. 7 years ago

Nancy Todaypossible monarch movement patterns

I’ve been thinking about the pattern of the monarchs. I think they lay eggs in an area and then move on to another and another and another. That would make sense because they don’t want to overpopulate one area of plants. If that is the case, then it would account for why we don’t see many of our own monarchs at home.

Monarchs get hit by cars because they are flying low across or along the road.

I have to count up the numbers. I haven’t done that lately. I know that all the monarchs in the first group of eggs and larvae I collected have now hatched out. I had it planned so that I did not collect any more after a month before I was going to California with Alida. 7 years ago

Nancy Todaya paper cone to hold the fallen pupae

July 21, 2007
12:52 pm

One of my hangers with a row of unopened pupae was on the gground.

The wind was blowing, so it must have knocked it off I hung it back up but two pupae had fallen off. I had no way to rehook one of them, so I made a cone out of a piece of paper and then slid it in so it sticks halfway out. I am quite pleased with my choice. 7 years ago

Nancy Today14 pupae will eclose into monarchs when we get up in the morning!

Saturday, July 21, 2007
1:30 am

I looked at the green pupae hanging from the screen squares I’ve safety pinned to the hangers on the southwest wall of the living room.

Most of them are black! It appears to me that 13 of the caterpillars in those pupae will come out as butterflies (eclose) tomorrow.

It looks like that’s most of them, now. It’s amazing how many are eclosing in a day. Many days have been ten a day. 7 years ago

Nancy Today10 more butterflies eclosed

July 20, 2007
2 pm

Ten more butterflies eclosed. One was from the side of the mug, one from in a jar and the other eight were hanging from screen from hangers over the sunroom door.

On the way home later tonight I brought in a large milkweed and put it in the vase with the existing big one.

I put some more tiny hatchlings from my egg dishes onto leaves. 7 years ago

Nancy Todayspice pupae out

that was the wrong photo 7 years ago

Nancy Todayspice pupae out

The pupae on the side of the spice container and the one hanging under the cupboard above the counter have both emerged, I mean eclosed, now. 7 years ago

Nancy Todayyesterday's last two males are outside now

I let two males who had hatched yesterday and had been in the aquarium by their choice, outside. It had started to rain gently, so the first one found the tall basswood in the berm on the hill above the lane. 7 years ago

Nancy Todayseven to ten more small larvae to add to the big plant

Thursday, July 19, 2007
3:35 PM

It stopped raining, and I felt that I should do something useful, so I took my little pill bottle and went down the hill. I was surprised to find larvae on the milkweeds. It’s like they had hatched and were hiding down near the bottom. Well, those hadn’t had time to hatch by the road, but there were definitely some first, second and third instar sized cats on there!

I told a man looking into the stream that it’s not stocked any more. He said it was a shame. I said it wasn’t. I wasn’t letting them because I was sick of all the tresspassers on my land and all the garbage they left behind, beer bottles, worm containers, etc.

He visited with me when I got down the hill.

I walked along behind our mailbox and was amazed to see how many larvae were down at the bottom leaf, probably hiding from the rain.

There were some huge slugs on a few of the leaves, too. I put the larvae all in the container, but didn’t find any eggs at all. I only went down to the second telephone pole from the corner and came back up to the house.

I put everyone on the big plant which I have removed to the kitchen table.

There were dozens of ants in the flowers on the top.  I broke the flowers off outside and brushed all the ants off as well. 7 years ago

Nancy TodayJust how they eclose into a buttefly

Actually, when the chrysalis is clear, you can see the entire wings. They are the size of a pinky fingernail. The chrysalis as it becomes clear is actually loosening itself from the body. Until it becomes clear it is attached. Removing it in any way will make the monarch bleed clear greenish fluid.

The front V between the wings loosens first. The buttefly’s legs start moving and he kicks it out of the way and then reaches out and grabs ahold of the shell and pulls. His head is at the bottom and his abdomen comes falling down from above as he gets out. His abdomen is swollen to about twice or more its eventual size.

The wings are fully formed, but tiny. The butterfly which at this moment looks like a gigantic wasp, begins squishing the fluid in his abdomen into the wings. Just like filling up an airmattress, the wings begin to grow before your very eyes. It takes less than ten minutes before they become huge and the abdomen is just a thin line like it is on butterflies.

The wings grow unevenly. They may look like a skirt, flared out only between the black lines which may grow a bit slower. Sometimes the end of the wings expands last so it looks curled up on the bottom of the wings. The four wings tend to grow at the same time, while the back two wings keep on lengthening after the front two are finished. However, it seems to be a bit different for each of them.

The butterfly gets a firmer grip and then hangs for a few hours before it flys.

It’s been the time of my life this month watching these 120 monarchs go from eggs and larvae to butterflies. 81 have eclosed into butterflies so far while the rest are pupae now.

I’ve been gathering eggs again and the odd larvae that I find at the same time, mostly first instars. I’ve got 85 of them now. Looks like I know what I’ll be doing next month.

I had them all in individual quart jars last time. It took hours to clean them each out every morning.

This time I’ve brought in a huge milkweed, put it in a vase and have it standing in an aquarium. I’ve put all the little hatchees on the leaves. I figure they’ll eat the leaves before I have to toss any partially eaten leaves out. 7 years ago

Nancy Todayseven more to eclose today

I sit here and look at the pupae hanging on the hangers…seven are black, 28 altoghter on the hangers. A bunch more in jars and some hanging from the spice containers and under the counter.

oh yes, one of them on the spice container is eclosing today. 7 years ago

Nancy Today85 new, 45 old...130 again

Thursday, July 19, 2007
9 am

I checked on my little dishes of eggs. Several had hatched and were tiny little larvae caterpillar worms. I wet my finger and touched them, then dropped them onto a leaf of the large milkweed in the aquarium.

Last night I counted…85 eggs plus new tiny larvae. 45 more butterflies to eclose out of their chrysalises. 7 years ago

Nancy TodayUntitled

July 18, 2007
10 am

I was using a pill bottle to gather the eggs. I found a few tiny larvae on the plants. There were many more rings where the larvae had eaten than the number of larvae I had found.

I did find several, or two large fifth instar cats. It I kept the small larvae and took some photos of eggs on the leaves and of the spider eggs and other various bugs that I found.

I found a larvae that had been predated from inside, perhaps done by the stink bug.

I gathered lots of eggs. There were quite a few on the bottom of the jar by the time I was done. 7 years ago

Nancy Todaydropped over and over, but still a perfect butterfly eclosed...deep sigh of relief

Thursday, July 19, 2007
8:49 AM

I got up from my chair and put my laptop on the coffee table, but I knocked the table with my foot. The jar on the table with the black pupa, ready to eclose into a butterfly, rolled off the table. The pupa went one was and the jar went the other.

Shoot. That meant that the pupa wouldn’t be able to hang up while the butterfliy emerges. I tood a safety pin and put it carfeuly throughjust the chrysalis, not the being inside. I had to do it a few times because the fragile chrysalis kept breaking apart. It’s kind of like putting a needle through the skin on the tip of your finger…it doesn’t’ really touch you. However, this skin isn’t even part of him, he’s about to shed it.

So as soon as I hung it up, it fell and hit the floor. It’s hard to pick up something soft without squishing it. but I got it up and tried again with the pin. It fell onto the couch. Sheesh. A good vice would be good about now. Ultra soft, of course!

As I picked him up from the floor, he was already waving his legs and had come partway out, or kicked the V-shaped door open, anyway.

He was on his back in my hand though. He HAS to hang or his wings won’t fill. I decided to let him hold onto my finger. He crawled onto it and held on. But my finger isn’t rough enough, so he couldn’t get a good grip. He was still in the shell a bit.

I held the v of the shell up and tried to hang him from that but he fell AGAIN! Tense sigh.

I let him walk back onto my finger and then walk onto the bottom of a piece of screen. Sigh of relief. Now he was holding on and hanging properly.

His abodomen was huge and his wings were tiny. I ran to the car for my camera. I know that in only about ten minutes he’s completely butterfly sized, so I wanted to get a good shot of this fat belly.

To my delight, he hung, fat belly and tiny wings for five minutes. I was quite worried that he hadn’t opened his wings yet, or filled them with the fluid in his belly anyway. But no, I guess he was still getting used to the fact that he was eclosing ahead of schedule.

I made a movie of him zippering up his probobscis, which he didn’t do yet. I also took photos of him from all angles. It’s a shot I don’t useually get becaseue it’s so short lived.

Anyway, I got some good shots of him.

I went out to the kitchen to see about other things and when I came back in, he was humping his abdomen up and down.

Immediately his wings began to fill with the fluid. I made another movie until the memory card was full. 7 years ago

Nancy Todayeveryone's on two plants! Brilliant idea!

He stopped on observatory hill for me so I could take a milkweed plant home for my ‘cats’ to eat.

I put them on different leaves. I think I have 11 on there. Most of them are really tiny, though.

I also did the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen and the monarchs’ messes around the vase.

I like this way better than them in separate jars. It’s much easier than cleaning out each jar.

I have put both vases in the aquarium. The bottom is covered with soil. I hope it doesn’t start to smell in there. Time will tell. 7 years ago

Nancy Todaydisection plans

2:30 pm
On the way home I hit a monarch butterfly! How dreadful! I turned around and went back to get it. It wasn’t dead but only crippled up. I found it on the shoulder of the road where it had landed after the many cars went by and blew it around.

It’s a female, so I thought as soon as she dies, I’d like to dissect her abdomen for eggs. I wonder if there are eggs in there or if the egg is put into a container as it comes out. That would explain what I found on two more monarchs that were dead on the roadside the rest of the way home.

I guess I really should have gone into Entomology. I do love the study of insects! And botany, for the plants. And zoology for the other stuff. And of course, psych for animal behavior, which I did! 7 years ago

Nancy Todaywandering with my pill bottle in hand

Wed. July 18, 2007
10:30 am

I wandered around and found myself in some fields I had wanted to explore. I was pleasantly surprised to find there was a lot of milkweed in the area.

I stood and watched as two monarchs did cartwheels around one another and chased one another across the meadow.

So I was in the meadow and the grass was pretty low. It was only about a foot high or less. There were some low flowers, gut not many. It was a pretty dry field.

The butterflies were stopping and landing on the various plants. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she had stopped on a tiny milkweed. I looked around and was amazed to discover the number of tiny plants.

I gathered eggs off lots of plants, searching each one in the field. It was pretty humid and hot as I worked. Of course I was wearing long pants and my hat. 7 years ago

Nancy Todaygathered on Horsesoe island

uly 16, 2007
4 pm

I took my mirror on a board down to the stream, crossed along the logjam and searched for eggs. I dropped two, but I ended up gathering five of them.

I also found some first instar monarchs, the really small cm-or-less long ones. I also got a bigger one…third instar? Anyway, I searched the plants on Horseshoe island meadow around the chaises.

I found a swamp milkweed in bloom down there, too. I didn’t see any eggs on it, though. It’s quite a delicate plant. I’d seen it in bloom a few weeks ago and wondered what it was. Now I know!

So we have common and swamp milkweeds here. At least those are the only two I know about so far!

The mirror worked a bit, but the sky was so bright that it wasn’t really working well enough.

I got quite hot in the area around the winter tipi on the island. It’s much more humid there because it’s surrounded by water or marsh.

In the end I think I brought up six monarch larvae and five eggs. 7 years ago

Nancy Todaysmall red lady bug like bug...only very very small, dragged away a larvae

One small larvae, the cm long one, was being dragged away by a red bug the size of the metal rod at the end of a ball point pen. I got the caterpillar away from him, but he was already dead.

I should have taken a photo of him pulling it away. I couldn’t believe it! I was so glad I was collecting these to raise inside. That’s the only way to keep them alive the whole time! It’s so simple, too.

This picture is of a spider like the one that dragged away a larva before my very eyes last month! 7 years ago

Nancy Todayfound a few eggs on sunrise hillside...predation

I was going to go collecting eggs, but my back hurts a lot. Instead I made an appointment for the chirproactor and just checked for eggs on sunrise hillside.

I found four of them and the monarch who was laying them. I love watching them lay eggs. I happened to see a monarch pause on a milkweed plant on the edge of the leaf and reach her abdomen in to glue an egg to the underside of a leaf halfway down the plant.

Bev W on my nature list said something about the predation on monarchs happens predomanantly in the open fields. She’s seen an increase in the stink bug population and has photos of them dragging huge larvae away. Boo hoo!

She wondered if they’re laying on milkweeds closer to the wood edge to get away from the bulk of predatory insects and spiders.

I’ve found that these plants nearest the trees are basically unscathed by bugs. The plants look tender and healthy. They show no signs of stress or having weatherd poorly through the recent lengthy dry spell.

They were hidden within the massive juniper bush, but when I cut out the branches of that bush,k it gave them a chance to get a bit of light and to grow. I like that bush being removed. It’s making more room for these milkweed to grow.

On the list they were saying that because of predation, rearing them inside is becoming more viable then trusting nature. The introduced bugs are doing so well on other species like these that it may spell disaster for the monarchs. 7 years ago

Nancy Todaycollected eggs with a mirror

I thought I might be able to come up with a way to see eggs on the underside of milkweed plants without having to bend over to check every leaf by tilting the plants.
July 16, 2007
2:02 pm

I thought perhaps a mirror would work. I really need a way to maneuver the mirror without having to hold it.

I haven’t figured out that part yet. I took a foot square mirror and did some looking, just by holding it at an angle. It works really well. The sun hits it and shines up on the underside of the leaves.

I found three eggs in the milkweed on the sides of the valley 7 years ago

Nancy Todaymilkweed as far as the eye can see!

Monday, July 16, 2007
6:20 am

I stopped to inspect the two or three varieties of milkweed plants at the gravel pit gate. It’s not really the pit right there, it’s the entrance to the top of the hill, observatory hill, actually.

I was standing there just looking around, noticing that my body wasn’t in agony anymore. In fact, it felt pretty good. I couldn’t bend down to check for monarch eggs on the plants, but otherwise, I was in pretty decent condition!

Anyway, that’s not what I was going to write about. I stood there looking into the distance and could see the milkweeds above the grasses because the dew was shining on everything. The sun had hit this side of the rolling hills. Milkweed for as far as the eye could see. Well, actually just up and over to the woods.

Across the road was the same thing. This is the next hunt camp, not the one I usually walk in.

Anyway, it was filled with milkweeds, too. Stretching across the rolling hills to the forest.

NO WONDER the monarchs are always on this stretch of road. I always see them flying along the road and find the dead ones on the shoulders. So NOW I got it!

I’m going to go back there and take photos of the lovely flower balls on the plants today.

I’m also going to go check on the three varieties. 7 years ago

Nancy TodayThe butterfly project numbers

June-July batch

4 big caerpillars that are hanging ready to pupate
11 big caterpillars still growing
52 pupae either green or black
72 monarch butterflies eclosed (emerged) {six in captivity}

July-August batch

24 eggs
4 immediately hatched almost invisible larvae 7 years ago

Nancy Todayscreen cylinder cage

Friday, July 13, 2007
1 pm

I made a screen cylinder cage for the monarchs and sat it on the counter in the sunshine. On the counter in the kitchen

I gathered eggs and I took the eggs off the leaves and put them in a lid of a mug. I checked them with binoculars to make sure they are monarch eggs. I also think that the lump on the spine of the leaf oftimes is never a monarch egg, but another insect egg in that mass of hardened goop.

I put several butterflies in the cage. I went out to sunrise hillside and found one of my deformed ones were on the ground.

I was pleasantly surprised to find several eggs out there. I think taking down the juniper bush also was helpful for them.

I had the cage on Willem’s desk when I made it and then moved it to the kitchen to be in the later sunshine. I hung a washcloth for them to drink from, but I guess none of them was old enough to need to bother.

As I went about gathering eggs, it felt good that I was keeping them from dying or being eaten off.

I found out how to make my own Petri dishes. I had thought of putting them on one of those, but it’ll take me some time to get the ingredients for it. 7 years ago

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